the MARIAN ANTIPHONS
Marian antiphons are a group of hymns in the Gregorian chant repertory of the Catholic Church, sung in honor of the Virgin Mary. Marian antiphons are not true antiphons in that they are not associated and chanted with a Psalm verse; in an attempt to avoid confusion the terms votive antiphons or breviary anthems are sometimes used instead.
The Marian Anthems are sung primarily by Roman Catholics particularly in religious communities after Compline. There are also used in Anglican communities where the traditional Divine Office is observed. Traditionally, they were also said after Lauds, and after each Hour when sung in choir, if the choir was then to disperse. These four antiphons were originally only performed in connection with psalms, but have been used as detached chants since 1239.
Although there are a number of Marian antiphons, some of great antiquity, the term is most often used to refer to the four hymns which have been used as detached chants since 1239:
1. Alma Redemptoris Mater (Advent through February 2)2. Ave Regina Caelorum (Presentation of the Lord through Good Friday)3. Regina Coeli (Easter season)4. Salve Regina (from first Vespers of Trinity Sunday until None of the Saturday before Advent)
There have been exceptions to this schedule in different monastic traditions over the years, e.g. the Benedictine monasteries were using them in the 14th century. In current usage the liturgical year is divided into four periods, with each period associated with one of the four Marian antiphons, which is sung at the end of Compline or Vespers during that period. For example, Alma Redemptoris Mater is sung from the first Sunday in Advent until February 2.
The four Marian antiphons (with occasional variations in the text) are often set to polyphonic music for choir or as solo arias. The Gregorian melodies exist both in elaborate solemn forms and simplified versions.
The antiphons of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "Alma Redemptoris Mater", "Salve Regina", "Ave Regina Coelorum", and "Regina Coeli", were originally sung in connection with psalms, but they have been sung as detached chants since the year 1239, when Pope Gregory IX ordered that they be sung, each according to its season, at the end of the Divine Office. According the traditional liturgical rubrics for the 1962 edition of the Latin Divine Office (Divinum Officium in Latin), each of the following four Marian antiphons has its assigned liturgical season:
Alma Redemptoris Mater (from Vespers of Saturday before the 1st Sunday in Advent through the second Vespers of February 2)
Ave Regina Caelorum (from Compline of February 2nd until Compline of Wednesday in Holy Week)
Regina Coeli (from Compline of Easter Sunday until the Compline of Friday after Pentecost Sunday)
Salve Regina (from 1st Vespers of the Feast of the Blessed Trinity – which is the Sunday after Pentecost Sunday – until None on Saturday before the 1st Sunday of Advent)
The chants for the Marian antiphons come in two versions, a simple tone and a solemn tone. The solemn tone (tonus solemnis) version of a chant (which is called a cantus solemnis or cantus festivus) is a more-elaborate setting of a text that sung on certain important feasts. The simple tone (tonus simplex or tonus ferialis) version (which is also called a cantus simplex or a cantus ferialis) is used on other days. The very latest genre of medieval chant to be incorporated (in some part) into the canonical liturgy was the votive antiphon. Votive antiphons were psalmless antiphons—that is, independent Latin songs—attached as riders onto the ends of Office services to honor or appeal to local saints or (increasingly) to the Virgin Mary.
As a human chosen by God to bear His son, Mary was thought to mediate between the human and the divine. One fanciful image casts her as the neck connecting the Godhead and the body of the Christian congregation. As such she was the natural recipient of personal prayers or devotional vows (and it is from "vow" that the word "votive" is derived). From the cult of Mary arose the Marian antiphon or "anthem to the Blessed Virgin Mary."
The Marian Antiphons: Alma Redemptoris Mater
The four Marian Antiphons have traditionally been sung at the end of Compline - each one during a particular season of the Church Year. Alma Redemptoris Mater is sung from the first Sunday of Advent until the Feast of the Purification (AKA "Candlemas") on February 2.
The Divine Office is comprised of a series of eight services performed each day and night: Matins (or Vigils), often at 3:00 a.m., Lauds, at daybreak, Prime, at 6:00 a.m., Terce, at 9:00 a.m., Sect, at Noon, None, at 3:00 p.m., Verspers, at twilight, and Compline, before retiring. Services include canticles and psalms with antiphons, humns, and lessons and versicles with responsories and prayers. The prayers, hymns, antiphons and other aspects of the Divine Office correspondent to the Liturgical Seasons established by the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.
While there are several Marian antiphons, many of them ancient, the so-called Antiphons of the Blessed Virgin refer to four hymns which have been sung as part of the Divine Office for centuries, at four junctures of the Liturgical Season:
Alma Redemptoris Mater ("Loving Mother of our Savior"), is sung from the Vespers of the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent to the Feast of the Purification, inclusiveAve Regina Caelorum ("Hail, Queen of Heaven"), is sung from the Presentation of the Lord through Good Friday, inclusive.Regina Coeli Lætare ("Joy to Thee, O Queen of Heaven"), is sung during Easter.Salve Regina ("Hail, Holy Queen"), is sung from first Vespers of Trinity Sunday until None of the Saturday before Advent.
Although antiphons are usually defined as a liturgical chant with a prose text, sung in association with a psalm" (see Michel Huglo in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, "Antiphons" at p. 472), "[s]everal categories of antiphon developed without any link with psalmody, such as the great processional antiphons of the Gregorian processional." (Id., p. 472, Part V.) Thus, while antiphons normally are tied expressly to biblical texts, the four Antiphons of the Blessed Virgin instead express the devotion of the people rather than reciting prayers from the psalms. According to Joseph Otten of the Catholic Encyclopedia, "[t]he melodies to these texts are among the most beautiful in the whole Gregorian repertory. As they were intended to be sung by the congregation, they are of simple and graphic construction. They breathe a deeply religious spirit and are an efficacious means by which to reveal to the singer the mystical contents of the texts which they musically interpret. While the four antiphons in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and those occurring in the Mass have been prolific texts for figured settings both with the masters of classic polyphony and with modern writers, those preceding the Vesper psalms are almost universally sung to the Gregorian melodies."
1. ALMA REDEMPTORIS MATER
Alma Redemptóris Mater, quæ pérvia cæliPorta manes, et stella maris, succúrre cadénti,Súrgere qui curat pópulo: tu quæ genuísti,Natúra miránte, tuum sanctum GenitóremVirgo prius ac postérius, Gabriélis ab oreSumens illud Ave, peccatórum miserére.
2. AVE REGINA CAELORUMAve, Regina Caelorum,Ave, Domina Angelorum:Salve, radix, salve, portaEx qua mundo lux est orta:Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,Super omnes speciosa,Vale, o valde decora,Et pro nobis Christum exora.
3. REGINA CAELI LAETARE
Regina cæli, lætare, alleluia:Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia,Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
4. SALVE REGINA
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ,vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevæ,Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentesin hac lacrimarum valle.Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuosmisericordes oculos ad nos converte;Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.