Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!

Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag

Today, September 8, is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Also known as the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary or simply The Virgin Mary's Birthday, it is a special feast day for Catholics, celebrating the birth of the Mother of Christ. September 8 marks nine months after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8). It is an important feast because it prepares the way for the birth of Jesus Christ.

My way of honouring Mama Mary's birthday is by sharing some of my favourite Marian hymns in this blogpost.

First of all: since we've started up Compline again this academic year, it's only fitting that I begin this post by sharing some musical settings of the appropriate Marian antiphon of the season: Salve Regina. Those who have participated in the Fatima devotions locally in the Triangle (North Carolina) area know the simple chant that concludes the community's Rosary prayers:

Here is the version we chant every Sunday evening in Compline from Trinity until Advent:

Here are a few of my favourite settings of the Ave Maria. First, this setting of Ave Maria by Josquin des Prez. It starts off Ave Maria, gratia plena dominus tecum, virgo serena (Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, serene virgin). I particularly like the ending, which is a Josquin's plea to the Virgin Mary: O mater Dei, memento mei. Amen. (O Mother of God, remember me. Amen.)

Here is one by Jacob Arcadelt. It also inspired Franz Liszt to compose a piece for the organ (Ave Maria d'Arcadelt).

Another favourite is by Tomás Luis de Victoria.

When I first heard this setting by Franz Biebl, I was in love. It is essentially a sung Angelus prayer.

Finally, this is Robert Parsons' setting of the Ave Maria. It was one of the most challenging pieces I've had the pleasure of learning, and out of necessity, I've had to learn three parts (soprano, alto 1 and alto 2), but the time spent learning it was very well worth it. This is a gorgeous piece!

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!