19 March 2024

Honouring the Queen of Heaven during Lent

The Coronation of the Virgin
Blessed Fra Angelico, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence [Web Gallery of Art]

Compline, the official Night Prayer of the Church ends with an anthem  of antiphon to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In monasteries this is sung. In the traditional liturgical calendar there are four of these, all in Latin.

Alma Redemptoris Mater is sung from Saturday before the 1st Sunday of Advent through February 1.

The anthem from 2 February, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, through Wednesday of Holy Week is Ave, Regina caelorum.

Regina caeli is the Easter anthem, sung from Easter Sunday through Friday within the Octave of Pentecost.

The best known anthem, sung on many occasions apart from Compline, is Salve, Regina. It is the anthem for Compline from Saturday after the Octave of Pentecost through Friday before the 1st Sunday of Advent.

Sung by the Choir of the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans), Chevilly, France, conducted by Fr Lucien Deiss CSSp.

 Ave, Regina caelorum , / Ave, Domina Angelorum: / Salve, radix, salve, porta, / Ex qua mundo lux est ora:

Hail, Queen of heaven; / hail Mistress of the Angels; / hail, root of Jesse: hail, the gate / through which the Light rose over the earth.

Gaude, Virgo gloriosa, / Super omnes speciosa, / Vale, o valde decora, / Ex pro nobis Christum exora.

Rejoice, Virgin most renowned / and of unsurpassed beauty. / Farewell, Lady most comely. / Prevail upon Christ to pity us.

English translation from The Roman Breviary, published by Baronius Press, MMXIX.

Ave, Regina caelorum
Setting by Cipriano de Rore (c.1516-1565)
Sung by Voces8 with Voces8 Foundation Choir

For me this music is utterly sublime, a foretaste of heaven. One doesn't have to listen to the lyrics, just the blend of voices, voices that remind us that we are truly made in the image and likeness of God.


Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Father Seán,
Yes, the Gregorian chants are the BEST to be sung at Church and it is a pity that after the 2nd Vatican Council it got replaced by songs in the language of the country. Such a far cry from the Gregorian and not heavenly at all...

Fr Seán Coyle said...

'The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.' Sacrosanctum Concilium, No 116, promulgated by Pope St Paul Vi, 4 December 1963, also known as The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Father Seán,
A pity that those words from Pope St Paul VI have not been carried our or maybe not fully understood by several Church leaders...