Mary, Mother of God

Salve Regina

The “Salve Regina” / “Hail Holy Queen” prayer was originally composed in Latin during the Middle Ages. This liturgical chant has been sung in monasteries for over 1,000 years! To this day, the Mother of Jesus, who is also our Mother, is called for her intercession with this prayer.
The name of the chant is taken from the first words of the Latin version.

English:

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.

Latin:

Salve, Regina,
Mater misericordiæ,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevæ,
in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

The following versicle, response, and collect may be added:

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Almighty, everlasting God, who by the co-operation of the Holy Spirit didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin-Mother Mary to become a dwelling-place meet for thy Son: grant that as we rejoice in her commemoration; so by her fervent intercession we may be delivered from present evils and from everlasting death. Through the same Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The following versicle, response, and collect may be added:

Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix,
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Oremus.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui gloriosæ Virginis Matris Mariæ corpus et animam, ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur, Spiritu Sancto cooperante præparasti: da, ut cuius commemoratione lætamur; eius pia intercessione, ab instantibus malis, et a morte perpetua liberemur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.

The Salve Regina is one of the so-called Marian antiphons, that are sung to call the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the liturgy of the hours, the prayer is recited at the end of the vesper or compline. Depending on the time of the liturgical year, one of the four seasonal Marian antiphons is sung:

  • From Trinity Sunday until Advent: Salve Regina
  • During Christmas season (from Advent until Presentation of the Lord): Alma Redemptoris Mater
  • During Lent (from Presentation of the Lord until Good Friday): Ave Regina Caelorum
  • During Ester season (from Easter Sunday until Trinity Sunday): Regina Caeli

In the first three verses of the Salve Regina we praise the Virgin Mary and state some of her characteristics: The Mother of God is holy, a merciful mother, she’s life, sweetness and hope. Then, the tone gets a bit more serious – we prayer bring before her our straits, our hardships. We are expelled from Paradise, the “poor banished children of Eve”; therefore we sigh, we mourn, we weep, and we cry. As in classical prayers, the hymn starts with praise and calling the one we pray to directly by name, followed by laying forward our straits, and finally resulting in seeking help and support. Mary is called here as our “most gracious advocate” and we ask her to turn her eyes towards us, to listen to us. We ask her to help us, so we, currently in exile, will be shown the “blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus” – that we will be saved and have eternal salvation in heaven through Jesus one day. The prayer then concludes with more praises; together with the praises in the beginning, they form a frame around the entire hymn.

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