Salve, Regina (printed copy)
SSA a cappella choir
“Salve, Regina” was a winner in the 2016 Call for Scores by Calliope’s Call, an organization in New England devoted to the performance of art song. The composition was influenced by the singing of Norwegian chamber group Trio Medieval. This intimate yet joyful setting requires virtuosic and precise singing, and is a great challenge for advanced women’s choirs and chamber groups.
Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria. Amen.
HAIL holy queen, Mother of mercy,
our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished
children of Eve.[Text Wrapping Break]To thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley
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.
– Anonymous 12th c. Latin chant, ad. Jocelyn Hagen
Numerous authors have been proposed for what is said to be the most popular Marian antiphon; St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Adhemar de Monteil, Bishop of Le Puy (ca 1080 AD), and Peter of Compostela (930 AD). Herman Contractus, who wrote a number of well known Marian pieces, is the author favored by current scholarship. An interesting story exists describing its last three invocations. The Chronicles of Spires tell us that the final three invocations were added by St. Bernard (1091-1153). The hymn, so the story goes, originally ended with the word ostende. However, when St. Bernard was the Papal Legate in Germany, he heard the hymn being sung in the Church of Spires, threw himself upon his knees, and with a fit of sudden inspiration rang out with the words: O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria. These three invocations have been repeated ever since and four stones in the Church mark the place where the holy doctor knelt. Unfortunately for the story, the lines appear in early manuscripts before this event was supposed to have taken place.
What we do know for certain is that the Salve Regina was used as a processional chant at Cluny by 1135. Around 1218 the Cistercians adopted it as a daily processional chant and in 1251 as an ending to Compline. Both the Dominicans and the Franciscans also adopted it around this same time and the Carmelites used it for a while in place of the last Gospel at Mass. Gregory IX (1227-1241) ordered it to be chanted after Compline on Fridays. From the 14th century down to today it has been a part of Compline for the Latin Rite. Traditionally this antiphon is recited at Compline from Trinity Sunday until Advent.
This hymn is said to be a favorite of our Lady herself by testimony of those who have reportedly seen her in visions.