Saturday, December 8, 2012

Coming soon

The past month has set a lot of distractions upon my way, but not to fear: I'm currently working on a piece about alcohol consumption in the Middle Ages and the causes of the temperance movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This will commemorate the recently past 79th anniversary of the Eighteenth Amendment's repeal, signaling the official end of Prohibition. It won't be entirely the sort of article you're expecting, though.

In the mean time, I can share with you a trinket I made for my girlfriend: a choker made from a Gothic fabric trim, with a griffin locket to hold sentimental portraiture. It was my attempt at applying the medieval arts to a popular Victorian fashion accessory, though I suppose a mind to practicality might be of use in future experiments. Some say the choker was born from the French Revolution, when women would wear red ribbons around their necks to show solidarity with those who lost their heads to the guillotine. The fashion continued well into the 1920's, among commoners and high-born alike, as a way to emphasize a graceful neck.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The priest hole: the pre-modern speakeasy

I went to see 007: Skyfall last night and was thoroughly impressed at its unabashedly traditionalist approach to the espionage genre. Skyfall commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Bond film franchise. This quick entry requires a couple of spoilers, so watch out:

The movie's name comes from Skyfall, the name of the Bond family estate in Scotland which is used for the final shootout. The bad guy is hunting down M, whom Bond sends down a "priest hole" when the going gets too tough for bullets; the implication is that if Bond himself isn't a Catholic, he is at least descended from a family of noble Catholic recusants: people who stubbornly held onto Catholicism after the Reformation. The priest hole isn't strictly a medieval phenomenon, but may be said to have preserved a vestige of medievalism in Reformation England, Scotland, and Ireland. In the reign of Elizabeth I, the Church of England became thoroughly Protestant and measures were placed against the practice of the old religion. Anyone in England caught celebrating or participating in Catholic rites was to lose all his property on the first offense, one year's imprisonment on the second, and life imprisonment on the third. The penalty for either converting to, or helping another convert to Catholicism, was death. Nonetheless, the Catholic faith persisted in certain circles. 

Priest hole in the cupboard of Harvington Hall, Worcestershire
Among the noble families which maintained the old religion, they converted their castles and country houses to easily hide priests, vestments, chalices, and other religious items in the event that a "pursuivant", or priest-hunter, would come to search the house. These "priest holes" had to be especially secure, as searches were known to have lasted as long as two weeks. Priest-hunters would sometimes conscript carpenters or masons to inspect the house for any weaknesses in the walls or woodwork. There are, indeed, cases of priests having died of starvation inside these holes while the pursuivants tore the house apart. 

The most famous designer of priest holes was Saint Nicholas Owen, a Jesuit lay brother. He was most likely a carpenter and spent thirty years building priest holes around England. It's said that Owen engineered the escape of another Jesuit, the priest John Gerard, from the Tower of London in 1597. Owen was eventually tortured to death in 1606 in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, but he never revealed a single priest hole he constructed. Some of his priest holes may remain undiscovered even to this day.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Modern Medievalist goes to Boston

If you've been wondering why your favorite medieval maniac hasn't been posting any gems recently, it's because I've been spending the past few days visiting my girlfriend in the Boston area. This was the first time I've ever been to the city, and in fact, the furthest north I've ever been along the east coast. But fear not: not even romance will stop me from charting the course of the medieval revival wherever it may be found! I sadly didn't have time to eat at the Medieval Manor, but I had many other ballad-worthy adventures. I decided not to post until after America's greatest religious feast/popularity contest had passed; now that it has, we can resume being medievalists!

Salem: Bewitched into Mediocrity 

My trip first brought us to Salem*, whose name is infamous for the witch trials of 1692. I spotted an old Gothic Revival church which had suffered major burning damage during the 1950's or so, and was since converted into the "Salem Witch Museum". The architecture suckered me into going in. After having paid the exorbitant entrance fee, we entered and were subjected to a show with papier-mache mannequins and absurdly cheesy voiceover narration, though it was at least quite educational. If the tour had stopped there, I might have lived with it. The second portion took us to a hallway with more mannequins and voiceovers: the first was of an early medieval midwife, trying to convince me that millions (not hundreds or even thousands, but millions) of her pagan sisters had been executed by the big bad Church during that mythical era known as "the Burning Times™" because they hated and feared women. (Ironically, many of my trad Catholic friends are all about home-births, midwives, and homeopathic medicine.) The last set was a pair of modern-day Wiccans in "ceremonial dress" seemingly cobbled together from the Pyramid Collection, with a spiel about them continuing the much nicer old faith of pre-Christian times while being peaceful, neighborly, and absolutely not meriting a place on a government watchlist.

And before one of you dear readers rushes furiously to the comment box to call me a bigot, I should say here that my dating history consists, by sheer coincidence, pretty much entirely of pagans or ex-pagans. I know the score. I'm simply stressing the fact that this museum hits its customers on the head repeatedly with pseudo-history about the Middle Ages straight out of a Wicca pamphlet. In truth, Wicca doesn't even have anything to do with any of this. Everyone who was hanged or died in prison during the witchmania of 1692 was a Christian, including one minister.

*I later discovered that the witch trials didn't even actually take place in the modern town of Salem. They occurred in a nearby town now called Danvers. They changed their name to that from Salem Village because they were so embarrassed by their association to witchmania.

Statue of Roger Conant, founder of Salem. I have to admit, the sculptor made this Puritan look like a boss.

Peacefield: a Presidential estate

The next day, we traveled to the home of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, second and sixth Presidents of these States United. Adams named his property "Peacefield" in memory of his role in negotiating the 1783 Treaty of Paris, ending the American Revolutionary War. The firmly Enlightened character of the Founding Fathers and the classical style of the house will make my visit here seem like a strange departure from medievalist interests, but the most remarkable building on the grounds is actually Gothic: the Stone Library. When Quincy died, he willed that a library be built to house his massive collection of 14,000 books in 12 or so languages. It was to be fashioned of stone and stand apart from the house, so it would be less susceptible to the danger of fire. When I visited, I saw obscure tomes in Greek and Hebrew, and shelves that were two books deep. Quincy (having been an ambassador to Russia, Prussia, and the Netherlands) spoke many languages. He even supposedly studied a dialect of Polynesian, not because he was required to do so for any diplomatic mission, but merely because he felt like it.

From the NPS: "There are more than twelve languages represented and includes a range of subjects from astronomy, literature, horticulture, natural history and theatre, including many significant and unique books such as: John Adams’ copy of George Washington’s Farewell Address, the Bible inscribed with a note of gratitude from the Mendi people to John Quincy; and a Bible Concordance dating to 1521."

The portrait we stood before while hearing that story.
When I was in the Adam house proper, the tour guide gave an amusing anecdote about Quincy's wife, Louisa Johnson, as we stood before her portrait. It started in December 1814, when the couple and their son lived in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Quincy was away in Paris, and sent word to his family that he was going to be transferred to another diplomatic post. This required Louisa to pack up all their belongings and travel all the way from Russia to France in the middle of winter, following the trail left by Napoleon after his failed invasion. Bodies still littered the battlefields, and the Adams were forced to cross icy water on a sledded carriage and lodge in the most dubious places. When they reached the border of France itself, most of Louisa's servants fled for fear of being drafted into the army. Napoleonic troops stopped her carriage, which was clearly of Russian make, and were about to arrest or execute Louisa as an invader. She circumvented this by starting a rumor that she was Napoleon's sister in disguise, and gave weight to this by the fact that she could speak French perfectly. The soldiers, not willing to risk the chance that she really was the Emperor's sister incognito, let her make her way into Paris without any further harassment.

When she arrived, Quincy said the equivalent of, "what took you so long?" Louisa related the whole story, which Quincy then transmitted in a letter to his mother, the former First Lady Abigail. Abigail had always given her daughter-in-law a hard time for being a foreigner; as an Englishwoman, Louisa was the only First Lady ever born outside of the US. But after reading of her harrowing adventure through Europe, she gained respect and the two ladies got along ever since.

The Old House at Peacefield.
Massive leaves along the side of the house.
 The theme from the John Adams miniseries by HBO was playing in my head constantly through this portion of the trip. So, so good.

Holy Cross Cathedral

The Archbishop of Boston's seat is downtown at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, which coincidentally is also home to one of the city's traditional Latin Mass communities. I don't think I've missed attending a Requiem Mass on All Souls Day in my entire history as a Catholic, and this year was not going to be an exception. It was already nightfall, and trying to find parking was a nightmare. I wandered through several tightly-packed residential streets lined with townhouses and apartments with shops below, reminiscent of major European capitals. I was so keen on attending this Requiem Mass that I risked leaving the rental car in a resident-only spot, and rushed inside. The Mass was celebrated in the lower church; effectively a well-furnished basement. At first I was worried that this was to be yet another Latin Mass community that was forced underground (literally), doomed to have nothing but low Masses in aeternum. But no, I was pleasantly surprised to see a full-sized men's Gregorian schola beginning the proper Introit as the priest and his servers approached the altar.

This photo was from All Saints (which I did not attend), but it gives you an idea of what the sanctuary looks like. Note the fantastic wooden screen, though the style of the rails seem out of place.
The Mass was sparsely attended, which is not a surprise given that it's not a holy day of obligation. What was surprising is that most of those who did show up looked to be in their 20's or early 30's. I later deduced that they were probably part Juventutem's Boston chapter, but it was nonetheless the first time I had attended a Latin Mass that wasn't predominantly either old folks or families with squalling kids in a very long time (not that that's bad; I'm just saying). Further, despite the few warm bodies filling the pews, the schola, called Schola Amicorum, sang all of the Proper chants of the Requiem Mass in full. The celebrating priest also gave an inspiring homily about the need to offer Mass and prayer for the dead which had me thinking about it long after the liturgy was over. The congregation seemed pretty timid about singing the Ordinary of the Mass, but the music for the Kyrie, Sanctus, etc. were printed and distributed to everyone, so I went ahead and sung them as loudly as I would if I were in the schola at home. Soon enough, a lot of people were singing more loudly, too. After the Mass, I approached a couple of the schola chanters randomly, asked about the community, and finally asked if I could sing with them the following Sunday. To sing with a random schola on an out-of-town trip has been on my "bucket list" for a while, and they enthusiastically welcomed me aboard even though I was a complete stranger.

This was from Good Friday, with what I presume is some of the schola members chanting the parts of the Passion according to Saint John.
The following Sunday, I met up with them before Mass to practice the Proper chants for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost. We practiced in the crypt, which contained the remains of several bishops and archbishops of Boston. I'm sure such a sight would have felt eerie and occultic to a hardcore Protestant. At Mass, we sang the full Propers including verses for the Communion antiphon, as well as two hymns from Vespers. What was especially awesome was that the noon Angelus was also chanted. The priest who celebrated this particular Mass was new to the old rite, and there were some liturgical... anomalies (like chanting the Last Gospel), but the day was still quite uplifting. The schola invited me to sing with them again whenever I might be in Boston again, and I intend to do so. They truly had an embarrassment of riches, musically speaking. Not counting myself, there were, I think, 8 chanters and, taking a wild guess, maybe 60 people in the pews. That's a far higher ratio of chanters to congregation than any other Latin Mass community I know of.

The only sour point of the day was that afterward, my girlfriend told me that some old lady approached her in her pew before Mass to tell her she was dressed "immodestly" and needed to put her jacket on. You can already picture the old bat, I'm sure, with multiple rosaries hanging all over her person. I was probably already in cassock and surplice not more than a few feet away. If I had known about that, I would've probably made a scene. I'll never fully understand why women at church are so damn nosy. The older they are, the more license they take in butting into one's business.

A word on the cathedral's architecture: I hadn't actually seen the upper church until after Sunday's Mass. I took an elevator from the basement, which opened up somewhere in the north transept. I have to say that the upper church of Holy Cross is perhaps the most epic Catholic church interior I've ever seen in America, and I don't say that overused e-word lightly. The National Basilica in DC is an oppressive pile of Tetris blocks by comparison. The Little Flower Basilica in San Antonio is an oversized wedding cake with gold frosting and lumps of whipped cream sculptures all over. Saint Mary Cathedral in Austin may be Gothic, but is a mere country parish when compared to the scale of Holy Cross. I was pleased to read that its architect, Patrick Keely, was a determined Gothicist: he built something like 16 cathedrals and 600 parish churches over the course of his career, making him probably the busiest architect in 19th century America. His father was even a student of Augustus Welby Pugin's.

The current layout is currently spoiled by an abundance of carpeting and a mess of unnecessary chairs about the chancel. I need not say anything about the altars, of course.

The Cathedral in 1966 for a Catholic Youth Organization event. I'm going to assume all those shakos mean there were a lot of marching band members in attendance back then.

Some details of the exterior.

Three cardinals' galeros (galeri?) hanging over the high altar. According to tradition, when these hats finally fall apart, the cardinal's soul is released from purgatory.

A foray into downtown Boston

My girlfriend and I dined at Goody Glover's Irish Pub in the North End, the oldest residential area of the city. The pub was named after Ann "Goody" Glover, who in 1688 was the last woman to be hanged as a witch in Boston. It's too bad she's so unknown, as her story is quite interesting. Glover was born in Ireland as a Catholic, then sold to slavery in Barbados by Oliver Cromwell. Her husband was killed there for refusing to renounce Catholicism. At some point, Glover came to Boston and served as a housekeeper to John Goodwin. His children fell ill, and the Puritan minister, Cotton Mather, blamed it on witchcraft. He called her "a scandalous old Irishwoman, very poor, a Roman Catholick and obstinate in idolatry". She was hanged, and is known as the first Catholic martyr in Boston. Needless to say, her death didn't cure the Goodwin children of their malady.

She looks wistfully, opposite me at the pub.
After that, we had gelato in the Italian district. On the way back to the car, we saw the ritziest laundromat ever, where you can have your laundry done and folded for you for cheaper than some public, self-service laundromats elsewhere.

The USS Constitution: Old Ironsides

My girlfriend had to go back to school, but before I returned to the airport for home, I made one last tourist stop to see the famous USS Constitution. Constructed in 1794 under President Washington's administration, the Constitution is the world's oldest naval vessel still afloat. It's still considered an active warship of the U.S. Navy with a crew of 60. On ceremonial occasions, they wear uniforms according to the regulations of 1813, when during the War of 1812, the Constitution was immortalized for having defeated five of the "invincible" British Navy's warships.

Yes, it still sails under its own power!
In truth, I didn't get to board the ship itself as it was closed to visitors for the winter season. But I did get to stand at the dock outside it and explore the nearby Constitution Museum. Most of the exhibits told me things I already knew. One thing I did not know was that in 1849, when the Constitution was docked in Gaeta, Pope Pius IX toured it for three hours along with King Frederick II of the Two Sicilies. The event was legally the first time a pope had ever set foot on American territory.

Commander Matthew J. Bonner, 72nd commanding officer of the USS Constitution.

And finally, an image of yours truly taking in the sights at Salem.

And I thought fall was only invented by Yankees to imagine some variety in their seasons.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Sarum High Mass: Mass of the Faithful

The previous articles in this series:

-The Use of Sarum: A Brief History, and Why It Matters
-The Sarum Low Mass: Mass of the Catechumens
-The Sarum Low Mass: Mass of the Faithful
-The Sarum High Mass: Mass of the Catechumens

At last, we come to the Sarum's summit: the Eucharistic sacrifice as seen in high Mass. This last comparison is short, though, because the rubrics for the Mass of the Faithful concern mostly the celebrant himself, and there are few differences between high and low Mass for him from the Offertory onward. The deacon and subdeacon, who may be said to be the "stars" of the Mass of the Catechumens, now step aside to humbly assist the priest as he fulfills his vocation upon the high altar.

The Offertory

As in the Mass of Trent, the Offertory begins after the celebrant says Dominus vobiscum, then Oremus. I said before that in a parish Mass, the Sarum rubrics place the bidding prayers "after the Gospel or Offertory". I placed my account of them after the Gospel, or after the Creed when the Creed is said. "After the Offertory" is a very awkward place for bidding prayers, but on closer thought, I offer the possibility that the rubric means after the Oremus. The reason? Because this was the place where the oratio fidelium, the prayers of the faithful, were made in Rome prior to the reforms of Pope Gregory the Great. This, at least, is the argument made by the Rev. Father Adrian Fortescue which can be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia's article on 'Liturgy of the Mass':

'The "Oremus" said just before the Offertory is the fragment of quite another thing, the old prayers of the faithful, of which we still have a specimen in the series of collects on Good Friday.'
'At Rome the prayers of the faithful after the expulsion of the catechumens and the Intercession at the end of the Canon have gone. Both no doubt were considered superfluous since there is a series of petitions of the same nature in the Canon. But both have left traces. We still say Oremus before the Offertory, where the prayers of the faithful once stood, and still have these prayers on Good Friday in the collects. And the "Hanc Igitur" is a fragment of the Intercession.'
It may have been the case, then, that Sarum preserved this ordering, or at least the option of it.

Now, as the celebrant reads the Offertory sentence privately, the choir sings it. There are some days (ferial days in Advent and from Septuagesima to Easter) in which the Offertory has a verse and response, like in the Tridentine's Requiem Offertory or in the Offertoriale Triplex. However, the rubrics state these are not to be said outside of these days. (I see no reason why the verses can't be sung by the choir ad libitum to cover additional time, however, if they can be found in the Offertoriale or elsewhere.)

The usual position of the ministers when the celebrant reads from the middle, though I'm unsure about the northward-facing acolyte there.
The deacon presents the chalice and the paten with the Host to be consecrated to the celebrant, "kissing his hand each time". As in low Mass, the celebrant offers the Host and chalice at the same time with the prayer Suscipe, sancta Trinitas. After placing the gifts properly upon the altar, he receives the thurible from the deacon and censes the gifts "thrice, making the sign of the cross over it; then thrice round and on either side: then thrice between himself and the Altar". While doing so, he recites the prayer:

Dirigatur, Domine, ad te oratio mea, sicut incensum in conspectu tuo.
Let me prayer, O Lord, be set forth in Thy sight as the incense.

He then returns the thurible to the deacon, who, if the Creed has been said, censes him. The subdeacon brings the celebrant "the Text" to kiss, but I'm not sure what text is being referred to here; perhaps the Missal. While the celebrant steps to the right of the altar to wash his hands as at low Mass, the deacon is incensing the left of the altar "and the relics in order". The rubrics don't specify if the deacon ever censes the altar's right.

One of the acolytes is tasked with incensing the choir, differing with the practice of Trent which has the deacon do so. The order prescribed is for the acolyte to first cense the rulers, then the dean, then those on the "upper grade" of his stall on the north side. Then he censes the precentor and the upper grade on the south side. He then goes back and forth to cense the middle and lower grades of the stalls in what must have been a lengthy ritual. The subdeacon, meanwhile, follows the acolyte and presents the Text for each member of the choir to kiss after they've been censed. If the Creed has not been said, then the incensing of anything but the gifts upon the altar is omitted.

After the handwashing, the celebrant returns to the middle of the altar and continues as he would at low Mass, while his ministers assume their places behind him. As in Trent, he sings per omnia saecula saeculorum aloud at the end of the Secret and continues with the Preface.

The Canon

During the versicles of the Preface, the deacon gives the paten and humeral veil to the subdeacon, who holds the paten with the veil until the Lord's Prayer. At the Sanctus, if there are rulers, the rubrics instruct the choir to exit their stalls at the ringing of the bell and stand outside the first stalls in the center of the quire. They do not kneel, except on ferial days.

There are no instructions throughout the Canon which differ from low Mass, except that after the consecration, the cerofers assist the deacon with washing his hands, and toward the end, at per ipsum et cum ipso, "let the Deacon stand at the right of the Priest, having first washed his hands, and assist him in raising the corporals; and as he retires let him kiss the Altar and the right shoulder of the Priest."

As at low Mass, the priest extends his arms in a cross after the consecration of the wine.

From the Lord's Prayer to Communion

As the celebrant begins the Lord's Prayer with Præceptis salutaribus moniti, the deacon takes the paten from the subdeacon and stands to the celebrant's right, holding the paten uncovered with both hands, arms extended out. At Libera nos, the deacon hands the paten to the celebrant, kissing his hand. The celebrant makes a curious gesture here which I neglected to mention in the low Mass article. Taking the paten from the deacon, he kisses it, then holds it over his left, then his right eye before signing himself with it.

At the Kiss of Peace, the deacon receives the peace from the celebrant and gives it to the subdeacon. The deacon also gives it to the rulers of the choir, who then give it to their respective sides.

As with low Mass, there are no instructions in the Missals for the people's Communion. I've done a bit more research into this subject, and it seems that there are no surviving rubrics for administering Communion to the people in any book whatsoever; largely because by the end of the Middle Ages, it seems the common practice was for the laity to receive Communion only a few times a year, and in those cases, usually outside of Mass.

The Rev. Seán Finnegan, who was involved with the Sarum Candlemas liturgy at Oxford in 1997, wrote of their difficulties in handling precisely how to approach the people's Communion "accurately". I'll quote from his series of posts on this:
"This was one part of the ceremony where we really had to wing it. We had gleaned that the confiteor was said before Communion, because there is a record of one king of England saying it on his own before his coronation. So we gave the Sarum Confiteor to the Deacon to recite, as in the Roman Use. There was a lot of agonizing about whether we should have Ecce Agnus Dei and Domine non sum dignus, but we could find no evidence for either (which is not the same as it never existing) so in the end, though we printed it in the booklets, we omitted it in the ceremony, probably correctly, I think. The formula for Communion we had, from the order for the visitation of the sick: Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat corpus tuum et animam tuam in vitam æternam, it goes. We knew that there was the custom of the 'houselling cloth' —the long cloth you can see being used — in many places, and that unconsecrated wine was given after the host to cleanse the mouth. We had no formula for administering that, so the acolyte simply presented a chalice with the wine, saying nothing."
The houseling cloth, which is held under the communicant's chin to prevent dropping the Host, is still used at some Tridentine Masses I've attended in the past. Father Finnegan also mentions the interesting custom of administering unconsecrated wine to "wash down" the Eucharist. This may have been a remnant of the late medieval Church's transitional period, when it withdrew Communion via the Chalice from the people. Perhaps unconsecrated wine was still administered as a matter of habit. Other reasons given were that it made swallowing the Host easier, and that it prevented anyone from spitting out any small particle of the Host later on.

Illustration of Communion from the Coronation Book of King Charles V of France, c.1365. (I believe the Tridentine form doesn't allow a bishop to distribute Communion with the mitre on.)

From the ablutions to the end of Mass

At the ablutions, the rubrics have the subdeacon pour the water and wine into the chalice (a few sources contradict and have the deacon here). At the third and last ablution, all sources have the deacon pour the water. The subdeacon ministers to the celebrant in washing his hands, while the deacon folds up the corporals, places them in the burse, the burse over the chalice, and gives them to the acolyte (wearing the humeral veil), who returns them to the credence or shelf.

The subdeacon assisting with the ablutions.
All else follows as in the Mass of Trent, but after the dismissal, the Mass is truly ended. As with low Mass, there is no final blessing, and the Last Gospel is recited privately by the celebrant on his way back to the sacristy. (The medieval priest may have recited it at the altar, though, if he were in one of those churches that had no sacristy to speak of.) The choir remain in their places and proceed with None, or the appropriate Divine Hour, immediately after Deo gratias.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The laudes regiae: Christ conquers

Today happens to be the feast of Christ the King according to the 1962 calendar. My good friend asked me to direct our schola in San Antonio today in his place since he was set to serve Mass as master of ceremonies, so I took advantage of the opportunity to have us sing one of my all-time favorite chants in the Church's vast treasury: Christus vincit. Also called the laudes regiae throughout history, Christus vincit is an acclamation which asserts Christ as the king of kings. It pulls no punches, calling out: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat. "Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands." I'm not very politically minded these days, but the placement of this feast in the 1962 calendar at the last Sunday of October has the convenient advantage of being celebrated right before the American political cycle on election years. It reminds us that no matter who becomes president, this entire world is ultimately under a monarchy, whether we wish to acknowledge the fact or not.

Christus vincit is an acclamation of a style that reaches back to ancient Rome. Praises of victory and honor were shouted or chanted to Roman generals, consuls, or emperors who entered the Eternal City in triumph after a great battle. Charlemagne, a barbarian king who fashioned himself a ruler in the tradition of the old Empire, adopted Roman traditions such as the acclamations for his own use. It's said that at his coronation as Emperor of the Romans in A.D. 800, he adopted Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat for his own personal motto. Those words formed a chant which was used in the coronations of the Holy Roman Emperors for centuries hence. 

 This version by the early music group Sequentia is based on a text from Charlemagne's time. It's from an album appropriately named 'Chant Wars'.

It's no surprise that the laudes regiae were most popular in Charlemagne's native France. Not only was it sung during the holy anointings of the French kings, it was also featured every year at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-Paris. On Easter Sunday, the King himself would process into the cathedral (considered the King's own parish), with the royal praises made both for him and the risen Christ. The French tradition then made its way to England courtesy of the Norman Conquest. Thus, the laudes regiae would also be heard in the coronations of the Kings of England from the time of the Conquest to the Reformation. The oldest manuscript we have of laudes regiae in England is for the coronation of William the Conqueror's wife, Matilda, as queen in 1068. For the curious, you can view the full text here

This version above was recorded by the Westminster Abbey Choir for the feast of Saint Edward the Confessor. It's based on a Sarum melody of the laudes.

Christus vincit continued to appear in the coronations of the Popes well after most of the crowns of Europe had fallen. Even after the the post-Vatican II Popes gave up the practice of coronation, though, Christus vincit has been heard in this context as recently as the inauguration Mass of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 (below).

Our schola sang an edition published by the CMAA (this one), which I believe is a monastic version. It's the very same one used in this following video.

Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.
Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands.
I. For the Church
Exaudi, Christe.

Ecclesiae sanctae Dei, supra regnorum fines nectenti animas: salus perpetua!

Redemptor mundi. Tu illam adjuva.

Sancta Maria. Tu illam adjuva.

Sancte Joseph. Tu illam adjuva.

Sancte Michael. Tu illam adjuva.

Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.
Give ear, O Christ.

To the holy Church of God, uniting the faithful beyond the limits of kingdoms: may she have everlasting weal!

Redeemer of the world. Grant her assistance.

Holy Mary. Grant her assistance.

Holy Joseph. Grant her assistance.

Holy Michael. Grant her assistance.

Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands.
II. For the Pope
Exaudi, Christe.

[Benedicto] Summo Pontifici, in unum populos doctrina congreganti, caritate: Pastori gratia, gregi obsequentia.

Salvator mundi. Tu illum adjuva.

Sancta Maria. Tu illum adjuva.

Sancte, Petre. Tu illum adjuva.

Sancte Paule. Tu illum adjuva.

Sancte Benedicte. Tu illum adjuva.

Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Give ear, O Christ.

To the Supreme Pontiff [Benedict], who gathereth into one all peoples through doctrine, in charity: let there be dignity for our Shepherd, and obedience for his flock.

O Savior of the world. Grant him assistance.

Holy Mary. Grant him assistance.

Holy Peter. Grant him assistance.

Holy Paul. Grant him assistance.

Holy Benedict. Grant him assistance.

Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands.

III. For the local Bishop
Exaudi, Christe.

[Gustavo] (archi-)episcopo et omni clero sibi commisso pax et virtus, plurima merces.

Sancte [Antoni]. Tu illum adjuva.

Sancte [Pie Decime]. Tu illum adjuva.

Christus vincit, christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Rex regum. Rex noster.

Spes nostra. Gloria nostra.
Give ear, O Christ.

To [Gustavo] our (Arch)bishop and to every cleric committed to him: let there be peace and strength, and a great bounty of good.

Holy [Anthony]. Grant him assistance. (diocesan patron)

Holy [Pius X]. Grant him assistance. (parish patron)

Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands.

King of kings. Our King.

Our Hope. Our Glory.
IV. For rulers and citizens
Exaudi, Christe.

Magistratibus et omnibus concivibus nobiscum orantibus: cordis vera quies, votorum effectus.

Auxilium christianorum. Tu illos adjuva.

Sancte Michael. Tu illos adjuva.

Sancte Benedicte. Tu illos adjuva.

Sancte [N.]. Tu illos adjuva.

Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Ipsi soli imperium, laus et jubilatio, per infinita saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Tempora bona habeant! Tempora bona habeant redempti sanguine Christi!

Feliciter! Feliciter! Feliciter!

Pax Christi veniat! Regnum Christi veniat! Deo gratias. Amen.
Give ear, O Christ.

To the magistrates and all fellow citizens praying with us: let the effect of their devotions be true rest for the heart.

O Help of Christians. Grant them assistance.

Holy Michael. Grant them assistance.

Holy Benedict. Grant them assistance.

Holy [N.]. Grant them assistance. (national, local patrons)

Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands.

Let all power, praise, and jubilation be to Him alone, through endless ages to ages. Amen.

May they have prosperous times! May they have prosperous times by the redemptive blood of Christ!

Joyously! Joyously! Joyously!

Let the Peace of Christ come! Let the reign of Christ come! Thanks be to God. Amen.
My final thought: why the discrepancy between the dates for the feast of Christ the King in the old and new calendars? I did some cursory reading to find out why. The feast was originally established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI in the encyclical Quas Primas. It was a response to the growing trends of communism, fascism, nationalism, and all the other -isms that would blow up into World War II. The date was to be on the last Sunday of October for two reasons: first, on a Sunday to ensure maximum attendance by the laity, and second, at the end of October so it would complement All Saints and All Souls Day, making a sort of triduum of holy days. Pope Paul VI's revision of the Roman calendar in 1969 then moved Christ the King to the last Sunday of the liturgical year before Advent, so that the feast would have a more eschatological significance. The feast was retitled "Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe", and its place at the end of the year would recall the Last Judgment.

Despite all Paul VI's liturgical blunders, I can't profess that one placement is inherently better than the other. They both make sense, for different reasons.