Friday, August 22, 2014

Hail Holy Queen

Coronation of Mary at St Francis Cathedral, Baker City, 1958 (Rambusch Bros, NY)
Today being the feast of the Queenship of Mary, I thought of giving you a brief reflection on one of the most popular prayers or hymns of the Catholic Church. The Salve Regina, or Hail Holy Queen  was composed during the Middle Ages by German monk Hermann of Reichenau. It was always sung or recited in Latin especially among monks during Compline, the prayer that is said in the evening. It is said that St Bernard, while acting as legate Apostolic in Germany, on Christmas Eve, 1146, he entered the cathedral to the processional chanting of the anthem, and, as he genuflected three times, he uttered the words "O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria," and these words were added to the Salve Regina. The Salve Regina is traditionally sung at the end of a priest's funeral Mass out of reverence to Mary, the Mother of Christ, the High Priest, and all Priests. As a prayer, it is commonly said at the end of the rosary.
The hymn has been set to music by various composers, including Victoria, Palestrina, Josquin and Lassus. Handel and Liszt composed their own settings in later years. Schubert composed no less than four versions. In 1976 the words of the first verse of the Salve Regina were used as a repeating theme in the song 'Oh What a Circus' in the musical Evita, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, Hail our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, Poor banished children of Eve; To thee do we send forth our sighs, Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, Thine eyes of mercy toward us; And after this our exile, Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

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