Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Wednesday 16 June |
Saint of the Day: St. Benno of Meissen
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

“The Seven Joys of Mary” is a catchy and instructive Christmas Carol

J-P Mauro - published on 12/13/19

Part sea chantey, part catechism, this is one to sing with the kids!

Over a lifetime one might believe they’ve heard just about every Christmas carol in the books, but here’s something uncommon, and it’s pretty catchy. “The Seven Joys of Mary” is an entertaining Christmas carol recorded here by The Great Big Sea. It’s an excellent sing-along sort of carol, and an excellent tool to teach children about Marian devotions.

Devotion to “the Seven Joys of Mary” considers events in the life of the Blessed Virgin, and has been around since the medieval era. There were originally only five recognized joys, but this number swelled to seven, nine, and then up to 15 before resting on the number seven, which may have been decided upon in order for the Joys of Mary to run in tandem with the Sorrows of Mary, a devotion that arose several hundred years prior to the Joys.

The carol has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years, but it only became identified with Christmas in the 20th century. Traditionally, the seven joys include the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Resurrection of Christ, the Ascension of Christ to Heaven, the Pentecost, and the Coronation of the Virgin in Heaven.

There are however, alternate versions, which most likely arose when the medieval tradition had it bumped up to 15. Other versions include Christ’s miracles, such as curing the lame and blind, and raising the dead, as well as moments from Christ’s Passion, like bearing His cross and wearing a crown of thorns.

The rendition by The Great Big Sea chose the imagery of Christ on the cross as the sixth Joy of Mary. While it does seem strange that they would choose to include such a sorrow among the joys, it could be argued that Mary felt joy and pride for her son’s sacrifice in fulfillment of his ministry and the redemption that came from the Son’s obedience to the will of the Father.

The duality of emotions felt by all Catholics when we remember the Crucifixion is important to our faith. After all, the moments of Jesus’ death and resurrection are also the moments of ultimate victory for our Triune God. By adding this Sorrow to the Joys, The Great Big Sea has given us an invaluable and instructive gift for our children, who will want to sing it all day long, because it’s the most infectious carol we’ve ever heard.

Catholic MusicChristmasVirgin Mary
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Nightbirde’s deep faith shines in her viral performance on ...
Magnús Sannleikur
5-year-old boy interrupts homily and asks for prayers for his int...
Philip Kosloski
Miracle prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
4 Phrases about Jesus that you should never say to your child
Revista Misión
Interview: The husband of Chiara Corbella on his wife’s sac...
Lucandrea Massaro
This 3D “carbon copy” of Jesus was created using the ...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.