The Feast of Christ the King references a title for Jesus found in numerous passages of scripture and is traditionally observed on the Last Sunday of Pentecost, the Sunday immediately before the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the new liturgical year cycle. (Lectionary Year A ends on Nov. 23, and Lectionary Year B will begin next Sunday, Nov. 30.) The Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant traditions (Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, et. al.) observe Christ the King Sunday. Other titles for this Sunday are “Christ Our Sovereign” or “The Reign of Christ.”
Highlighting the images of kingship or lordship found in today’s lectionary readings and hymn texts, English coronation music seems appropriate for the day. The opening voluntary is an organ transcription of the sinfonia (also overture or prelude) to Act III of Handel’s oratorio Samson, played in the oratorio at the entrance of the Queen of Sheeba and Zadok the Priest. The Offertory anthem is from another of Handel’s oratorios Judas Maccabeus, a story from the apocryphal book First Maccabees. And finally, the closing voluntary is an organ transcription of the coronation march “Crown Imperial,” composed in 1937 for the coronation of George VI and revised and extended for the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II.
The Arrival of the King of Sheba: