Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae,
Vita dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve
Eia ergo, Advocata nostra
Illos tuos misericordes
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui
Nobis, post hoc exsilium ostende
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis
Virgo Maria. Alleluia.
Michael Patrick Kelly released this new rendition of “Salve Regina” on his 2016 album, Ruah. The internationally acclaimed artist came back to the Marian hymn in the early days of the pandemic for this exceptional duet. He was joined by Jennifer Haben to perform the tune at the Cologne Cathedral.
The cathedral was nearly abandoned, save for the musicians and recording crew. This video was shot in July 2020 at the height of the world pandemic. The eerie circumstances of the unprecedented isolation orders that swept the world only add to the chills the music induces.
There, for a crowd of none, the 700-year-old UNESCO world heritage site was filled with the trance-like sounds of Kelly’s guitar. The cyclical rhythm is perhaps surpassed only by the impeccable harmonies the pair produced.
The music is a masterful production of sacred music. The guitar line has a certain flow to it that cycles between a somber hopefulness and comfortable serenity. It only gets better once Kelly and Haben begin to harmonize. The similarities between the two vocalists’ tones blend exceptionally well under the high ceilings of Cologne Cathedral.
Written at a monastery
Kelly is a life-long musician who grew up in the industry working with his family in The Kelly Family band. After years in the public eye, however, Kelly became disillusioned with music. He released an album called In Exile, and promptly abandoned his career to join a French monastery where he lived as a monk.
According to a behind the scenes video, released with the album Ruah, Kelly wrote many of the tracks at the monastery.
“All these songs were written in those six years at the monastery and now I’ve decided to bring them out. When I was a monk I wanted to read the Bible from A to Z. So, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, every Sunday I would open up the Bible and read every page. Any time I’d come across a passage that hit me, I’d grab the guitar and go into the cellar (where no one could hear me) and just write songs and that’s how [Ruah] came about.”
The artist explained that sometimes he would pack up and leave the cellar only to find there were monks listening outside the door. He noted that during these years he was akin to the “underground music club scene of the monastery.” His time as a monk, however, was not to last as Kelly would eventually feel called to return to music, as a primarily Catholic artist.