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3 Exceptional hymns to honor the Blessed Mother

Mary statue church

Sidney de Almeida | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 01/01/23

These songs will likely stay with you all day, drawing your mind back to the Blessed Mother to hail the Holy Queen.

Happy New Year to all Aleteia readers! On New Year’s Day, Catholics the world over observe the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. There’s no better way to start off the year than hailing the Holy Queen, and what better way to honor the Blessed Mother than through song.

Today we’ve assembled three outstanding Marian hymns that are sure to ignite devotion to the Theotokos. These melodies are extremely catchy and will likely stick with listeners all day. This in turn can help draw one’s mind back to the Blessed Mother each time we find ourselves humming the tunes. Thus is the magnificence of musical prayer, which is perhaps why St. Augustine said, “The one who sings prays twice.”

1 – Salve Regina | Michael Patrick Kelly

There are few modern hymns that have touched us like Michael Patrick Kelly’s “Salve Regina.” This masterful recording was made at the historic Cologne Cathedral, right at the peak of the world pandemic in 2020. Not only does the cathedral provide the singers with to-die-for acoustics, but it supplies the video with breathtaking visuals.

Salve Regina is a Catholic hymn that originated in the Middle Ages, in the Latin language. The prayer is an affectionate plea for intercession from Mary, who is referred to as the “Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.” It is also used as the conclusion prayer of the holy Rosary.

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy!
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve,
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley, 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.

2 – Ave Maria | Kings Return

While the most popular rendition of “Ave Maria” may belong to Schubert, there are yet many more worthy arrangements of this Catholic prayer. Here, the singers of Kings Return sing the prayer as we’d never heard it before. The basis of their arrangement was Schubert’s version, but these four a cappella artists take it in directions we never expected.

“Ave Maria” is the Latin version of the “Hail Mary” prayer. It is one of the most popular prayers among the faithful and its recitation is central to the holy Rosary.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners
now and at the hour of our death.

3 – Ave Maris Stella | VOCES8

Marian hymns are some of the oldest in the Catholic songbook and “Ave Maris Stella” is among the oldest of them, dating back to at least the 10th century. The text references Mary as the “Star of the Sea,” which is possibly due to a scribal error, but the title endured, becoming allegorical of Mary’s role as the guiding star who leads all to Christ through the turbulence of life.

This rendition from VOCES8 was composed by Edvard Grieg, one of the most respected composers and musicians in Norway’s history. Grieg did not consider his own sacred music to stand up besides greats like Bach or Beethoven, but the way VOCES8 sings it, we can’t help but think that the composer was too humble. This is an exceptional piece of music to honor the Blessed Mother.

Hail, bright star of ocean,
God’s own Mother blest,
Ever sinless Virgin,
Gate of heavenly rest.

Taking that sweet Ave
Which from Gabriel came,
Peace confirm within us,
Changing Eva’s name.

Break the captives’ fetters,
Light on blindness pour,
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore.

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