The composition of the Sonnets for Christ the King was assigned to me by a humble priest as a penance for my first youthful sequence of 154 amatory sonnets conceived in sin. While these had won First Place at the Scottish International Poetry Competition and had matched Shakespeare’s 1609 sequence, at least in number, they could only be erased from God’s memory by the completion of a new sequence of equal number, this time to honor the kingship of Christ which is a continuation of the Incarnation in the social body.
Alas, the seventy-seven Sonnets for Christ the King complete only half of my penance. Seventy-seven additional Sonnets for Heaven’s Queen are forthcoming.
The number seventy-seven references a conversation between Jesus and St. Peter reported by St. Matthew. To Peter’s question about forgiving seven times those who sin against him, Jesus responds: “I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times.”
The number of the sonnets is the only restriction I have imposed on the sequence. Rather than simply rewriting those dry, academic sequences “on the Sundays of the liturgical year” produced by so many Victorian vicars of dubious faith, I have opted instead to surrender all considerations—structure, order, content—to the Divine Will, lest my own weak lights should taint the gift I wish to offer our most gracious King.
The newly released audio files are offered both in MP3 singles and “albums” of sonnets grouped by theme. There are the eight “Sonnets of the Holy Ghost,” opening with a Veni Sancte Spiritus followed by seven sonnets on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost. There are the five “Valentine Love Sonnets,” the two “Double Sonnets,” the four “Advent Sonnets” (one for each Sunday of Advent), and the great “Christmas Sonnets.”
Finally, there are the “Fourteen Stations of the Cross” sonnets which are the climax of the entire sequence, an ascent to Mount Calvary. Professionally remastered in the voice of British actor Ian Russell, these are the most stunning, most beautiful of all, a veritable passion play in what radio listeners used to call the “theatre of the mind.”