Stabat Mater

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For other uses, see Stabat Mater (disambiguation).
For the hymn about the Nativity, see Stabat Mater Speciosa.

Stabat Mater Dolorosa, often referred to as Stabat Mater, is a 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary, variously attributed to the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi and to Innocent III. It is about the Sorrows of Mary.[1][2][3]

The title of the sorrowful hymn is an incipit of the first line, Stabat mater dolorosa ("The sorrowful mother stood").[4] The Stabat Mater hymn, one of the most powerful and immediate of extant medieval poems, meditates on the suffering of Mary, Jesus Christ's mother, during his crucifixion. It is sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Stabat Mater has been set to music by many composers, with the most famous settings being those by Palestrina, Pergolesi, Alessandro Scarlatti and Domenico Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Haydn, Rossini, Dvořák, Karol Szymanowski, and Poulenc.

Date[edit]

The Marian hymn Stabat mater is generally ascribed to Jacopo da Todi (ca. 1230-1306).

The Stabat Mater was well known by the end of the 14th century (1300s) and Georgius Stella wrote of its use in 1388, while other historians note its use later in the same century. In Provence, about 1399, it was used during the nine days processions.[5]

As a liturgical sequence, the Stabat Mater was suppressed, along with hundreds of other sequences, by the Council of Trent, but restored to the missal by Pope Benedict XIII in 1727 for the Feast of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary.[6]

Text and translation[edit]

The following translation by Edward Caswall is not word-for-word. Instead it has been adapted so as to represent the meter (trochaic tetrameter), rhyme scheme, and sense of the original text.

Stabat mater dolorosa
juxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta,
mater Unigeniti!

Quae mœrebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati pœnas inclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suæ gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
pœnas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum præclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me Cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii.

Flammis ne urar succensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriæ.

Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animæ donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother's pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy Mother my defense,
be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

Translation by Edward Caswall
Lyra Catholica (1849)

Musical settings[edit]

Main category: Stabat Mater settings

Composers who have written settings of the Stabat Mater include Josquin des Prez, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Antonio Vivaldi, and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi; of the latter's setting, the German poet Tieck opined: "I had to turn away to hide my tears, especially at the place, 'Vidit suum dulcem natum'".[7] Joseph Haydn's Stabat Mater is considered "a treasury of refined and graceful melody".[7] Others who have written settings are Agostino Steffani, Giovanni Carlo Maria Clari, Emanuele d'Astorga, Winter, Raimondi, Vito, Lanza, Neukomm. In the 19th century, Gioachino Rossini wrote his setting after retiring from the composition of opera, while Antonín Dvořák wrote his setting when he was still active in writing secular music. Most of the settings are in Latin, but Karol Szymanowski's setting and Paul Bebenek's are in Polish. The "Stabat Mater" was most recently set to music, in a Russian translation, by Metropolitan Hilarion (Grigoriy Valerievich Alfeyev).

Others: John Browne, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Antonio Vivaldi, Antonio Caldara, Charles Villiers Stanford, Charles Gounod, Krzysztof Penderecki, Francis Poulenc, Giovanni Felice Sances, Alessandro Scarlatti (1724), Domenico Scarlatti (1715), Pedro de Escobar, František Tůma, Vladimir Martynov, Arvo Pärt, Josef Rheinberger, Giuseppe Verdi, Pasquale Cafaro, Zoltán Kodály, Trond Kverno (1991), Pawel Lukaszewski (1994), Frank Ferko (1999), Bruno Coulais (2005), the black metal band Anorexia Nervosa, the symphonic metal band Epica on the live albums The Classical Conspiracy and Retrospect, Karl Jenkins and Stefano Lentini included in the film The Grandmasters by Wong Kar-Wai.


Franz Schubert composed two settings of the sequence, the G minor setting and the F minor setting.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sabatier, Paul Life of St. Francis Assisi Charles Scribner Press, NY, 1919, page 286
  2. ^ The seven great hymns of the Mediaeval Church by Charles Cooper Nott 1868 ASIN: B003KCW2LA page 96
  3. ^ p. 574, Alighieri, Durling, Martinez (2003) Dante, Robert M., Ronald L. Oxford The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Purgatorio Volume 2 of The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri Oxford University Press. "The Stabat Mater by the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi."
  4. ^ Stabat Mater, Volume 68 by Girolamo Abos, Joseph Vella Bondin 2003 ISBN 0-89579-531-0 page xviii [1]
  5. ^ Catholic encyclopedia
  6. ^ Heartz, Daniel (1995). Haydn, Mozart and the Viennese School: 1740-1780. W.W. Norton & Co. p. 305. ISBN 0-393-03712-6. Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Old Catholic Encyclopedia

External links[edit]