Salve Regina

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For the university, see Salve Regina University.
Madonna by Raphael, an example of Marian art
Salve Regina of Hermann von Reichenau sung by Les Petits Chanteurs de Passy (Gregorian notation below)
Salve Regina.png

The Salve Regina, also known as the Hail Holy Queen, is a Marian hymn and one of four Marian antiphons sung at different seasons within the Christian liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. The Salve Regina is traditionally sung at Compline in the time from the Saturday before Trinity Sunday until the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent. The Hail Holy Queen is also the final prayer of the Rosary.

The work was composed during the Middle Ages by German monk Hermann of Reichenau and originally appeared in Latin, the prevalent language of Western Christianity until modern times. Traditionally it has been sung in Latin, though many translations exist. These are often used as spoken prayers.

Background and history[edit]

Marian antiphons have been sung, since the thirteenth century, at the close of compline, the last Office of the day. Peter Canisius (d. 1597) noted that one praises God in Mary when one turns to her in song.[1] Liturgically, the Salve Regina is the best known of four prescribed Marian Anthems recited after Compline, and, in some uses, after Lauds or other Hours.[2] Its use after compline is likely traceable to the monastic practice of intoning it in chapel and chanting it on the way to sleeping quarters.[3] As a piece of music, it is not part of the much older Gregorian chant repertoire, but may date back to the 11th century.

Legends attributed it either to St. Anselm of Lucca (d. 1080) or St. Bernard. One legend story relates that, while the saint was acting as legate Apostolic in Germany, he entered (Christmas Eve, 1146) the cathedral to the processional chanting of the anthem, and, as the words "O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria" were being sung, genuflected thrice.[4]

However, the authorship is now generally ascribed to Hermann of Reichenau. Durandus, in his "Rationale", ascribed it to Petrus of Monsoro (d. about 1000), Bishop of Compostela. It has also been attributed to Adhémar, Bishop of Podium (Puy-en-Velay), whence it has been styled "Antiphona de Podio" (Anthem of Le Puy). Adhémar was the first to ask permission to go on the crusade, and the first to receive the cross from Pope Urban II. "Before his departure, towards the end of October, 1096, he composed the war-song of the crusade, in which he asked the intercession of the Queen of Heaven, the Salve Regina". He is said to have asked the monks of Cluny to admit it into their office, but no trace of its use in Cluny is known before the time of Peter the Venerable, who decreed (about 1135) that the anthem should be sung processionally on certain feasts.[4]

It was set down in its current form at the Abbey of Cluny in the 12th century, where it was used as a processional hymn on Marian feasts. The Cistercians chanted the Salve Regina daily from 1218.[2] The use of the anthem at Compline was begun by the Dominicans about 1221, and was rapidly propagated by them.[4] It was popular at medieval universities as evening song, and according to Juniper Carol, it came to be part of the ritual for the blessing of a ship.[3]

In the 18th century, the Salve Regina served as the outline for the classic Roman Catholic Mariology book The Glories of Mary by Alphonsus Liguori. In the first part of the book Alphonsus, a Doctor of the Church, discusses the Salve Regina and based explains how God gave Mary to mankind as the "Gate of Heaven".[5]

It was added to the series of prayers said at the end of Low Mass (liturgy) by Pope Leo XIII.

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.

Latin text[edit]

Madonna by Tiepolo, 1760
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevæ,
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

In some cases, the following versicle, response, and collect are added:

℣ Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
℟ Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
Oremus.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui gloriosæ Virginis Matris Mariæ corpus et animam, ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur, Spiritu Sancto cooperante præparasti: da, ut cuius commemoratione lætamur; eius pia intercessione, ab instantibus malis, et a morte perpetua liberemur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟ Amen. [6]

Translations[edit]

Variations exist among most translations.

  • Traditional English Translation (North America):

(in the version used by Catholics in the United Kingdom and in the Anglo-Catholic version, the wording "mourning and weeping in this vale of tears" is used in the 5th line)

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.
℣ Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
℟ that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, thy Son.
Let us pray:
Almighty, everlasting God, who by the co-operation of the Holy Spirit didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin-Mother Mary to become a dwelling-place meet for thy Son: grant that as we rejoice in her commemoration; so by her fervent intercession we may be delivered from present evils and from everlasting death. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
  • The Salve Regina was one of the Leonine Prayers, in which context the collect at the end was replaced by different text:
Let us pray:
O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with mercy upon the people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the glorious and immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Saint Joseph her spouse, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy mercy and goodness hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of our Holy Mother the Church. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy,
our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To you we cry, the children of Eve;
to you we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this land of exile.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
your eyes of mercy toward us;
lead us home at last
and show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus:
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Amen.

English hymns based on the Latin original[edit]

The Divine Office offers the following hymn as an alternative to the Latin:

Hail, our Queen and Mother blest!
Joy when all was sadness,
Life and hope you gave mankind,
Mother of our gladness!
Children of the sinful Eve,
Sinless Eve, befriend us,
Exiled in this vale of tears:
Strength and comfort send us!
Pray for us, O Patroness,
Be our consolation!
Lead us home to see your Son,
Jesus, our salvation!
Gracious are you, full of grace,
Loving as none other,
Joy of heaven and joy of earth,
Mary, God's own Mother!

Catholic missals generally list two or three verses similar to the following:

Hail, Holy Queen enthroned above, O Maria!
Hail, Mother of mercy and of love, O Maria!
Triumph all ye cherubim!
Sing with us ye seraphim!
Heaven and earth resound the hymn!
Salve, salve, salve, Regina!
Our life, our sweetness here below, O Maria!
Our hope in sorrow and in woe, O Maria!
Triumph all ye cherubim!
Sing with us ye seraphim!
Heaven and earth resound the hymn!
Salve, salve, salve, Regina!
And when our last breath leaves us, O Maria!
Show us thy son Christ Jesus, O Maria!
Triumph all ye cherubim!
Sing with us ye seraphim!
Heaven and earth resound the hymn!
Salve, salve, salve, Regina!

As with many hymns, many more verses exist, but are rarely printed or sung. The Latin text from which these verses are translated is:

Salve Regina coelitum, O Maria!
Sors unica terrigenum, O Maria!
Jubilate, Cherubim,
Exsultate, Seraphim!
Consonante perpetim:
Salve, Salve, Salve Regina.
Mater misericordiae, O Maria!
Dulcis parens clementiae, O Maria!
Jubilate, Cherubim,
Exsultate, Seraphim!
Consonante perpetim:
Salve, Salve, Salve Regina.

Musical settings[edit]

Main category: Salve Regina settings

As an essential component of the Compline service, 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 popular culture[edit]

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.

In the 1992 American movie Sister Act, a gospel- and rock & roll-infused version of the song was performed.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]