HAIL HOLY QUEEN (Salve Regina) PDF Print E-mail

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, O 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.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray

Almighty, everlasting God, who by the cooperation of

the Holy Spirit, didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious

Virgin-Mother Mary to become a worthy dwelling for Thy Son;

grant that we who rejoice in her commemoration may, by

her loving intercession, be delivered from present evils and

from the everlasting death. Amen.

Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae,

vita dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.

Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae.

Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes

in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra,

illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.

Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,

nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.

O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.


V. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genetrix.

R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.


Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,

qui gloriosae Virginis Matris Mariae corpus et animam,

ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur,

Spiritu Sancto cooperante, praeparasti:

da, ut cuius commemoratione laetamur;

eius pia intercessione, ab instantibus

malis, et a morte perpetua liberemur.

Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

by Ramón A. Pedrosa

I have wondered for years who composed this beautiful chant to the Blessed Mother. I thought it may have been the monks at her shrine in the Montserrat mountains in northern Spain. But no.

The authorship is now generally ascribed to Hermann von Reichenau, nicknamed Contractus.

There are other claimants to this honor. Durandus, in his "Rationale," also ascribes it to Petrus of Monsoro (d. about 1000), Bishop of Compostella. It has likewise been attributed to Adhémar, Bishop of Podium (Puy-en-Velay), whence it has been styled "Antiphonade Podio" (Anthem of Le Puy). Adhémar was the first to ask permission to go on the crusade, and the first to receive the cross from Pope Urban II. "Before his departure, towards the end of October, 1096, he composed the war-song of the crusade, in which he asked the intercession of the Queen of Heaven, the Salve Regina". He is said to have asked the monks of Cluny to admit it into their office, but no trace of its use in Cluny is known before the time of Peter the Venerable, who decreed (about 1135) that the anthem should be sung processionally on certain feasts. Perhaps stimulated by the example of Cluny, or because of St. Bernard's devotion to the Mother of God (the saint was diligent in spreading a love for the anthem, and many pilgrim-shrines claim him as founder of the devotion to it in their locality).

Regarding the development of the verses, the word "Mater" in the first verse is found in no source, but is a late insertion of the sixteenth century. Similarly, the word "Virgo" in the last verse seems to date back only to the thirteenth century.

The anthem figured largely in the evening devotions of the confraternities and guilds which were formed in great numbers about the beginning of the thirteenth century. In France, this service was commonly known as Salut, in the Low Countries as the Lof, in England and Germany simply as the Salve.

Now it seems certain that our present Benediction service has resulted from the general adoption of this evening singing of canticles before the statue of Our Lady, enhanced as it often came to be in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, which was employed at first only as an adjunct to lend it additional solemnity."

While the anthem thus figured largely in liturgical and in general popular Catholic devotion, it was especially dear to sailors. Scholars give instances of the singing of Salve Regina by the sailors of Columbus and the Indians.

The exquisite plainsong has been attributed to Hermann Contractus. The Vatican Antiphonary (pp. 127-8) gives the revised official or "typical" form of the melody (first tone). The now unofficial "Ratisbon" edition gave the melody in an ornate and in a simple form, together with a setting which it described as being in the eleventh tone, and which is also very beautiful. An insistent echo of this last setting is found in the plainsong of Santeul's "Stupete gentes." There are many settings by polyphonic and modern composers. Pergolesi's (for one voice, with two violins, viola, and organ) was written shortly before his death; it is placed among his "happiest inspirations", is deemed his "greatest triumph in the direction of Church music" and "unsurpassed in purity of style, and pathetic, touching expression."

Pope Leo XIII prescribed its recitation (6 January, 1884) after every low Mass, together with other prayers — a law still in force.

So let us go back to Hermann Contractus. His full name is Herimanus Augiensis, Hermann von Reichenau. He was chronicler, mathematician, and poet; b. 18 February, 1013, at Altshausen (Swabia); d. on the island of Reichenau, Lake Constance, 21 September, 1054.

He was a cripple from birth (hence the surname Contractus) he was powerless to move without assistance, and it was only by the greatest effort that he was able to read and write; but he was so highly gifted intellectually, that when he was but seven years of age his parents confided him to the learned Abbot Berno, on the island of Reichenau. Here he took the monastic vows in 1043, and probably spent his entire life there. His iron will overcame all obstacles, and it was not long before his brilliant attainments made him a shining light in the most diversified branches of learning, including, besides theology, mathematics, astronomy, music, the Latin, Greek, and Arabic tongues.

We are indebted to him chiefly for a chronicle of the most important events from the birth of Christ to his day. It is the earliest of the medieval universal chronicles now extant, and was compiled from numerous sources. He also wrote mathematico-astronomical works. Of his poems the most successful was the "De octo vitiis principalibus".

He composed religious hymns, and is not infrequently credited with the authorship of the "Alma Redemptoris Mater", and the "Salve Regina". The Salve Regina is one of four antiphons (choral music in Greek or Roman liturgy) to the Virgin Mary. Earliest manuscripts date it from the 11th century. Its many musical settings include those by La Rue, Josquin, Obrecht, and Ockeghem, as well as many English composers, in the 15th-century, and six settings by Schubert 1812-24.

O Blessed Herman, I finally found it is you that wrote the beautiful Salve Regina. And now I understand why you described our stay on earth as "this vale of tears - illa lacrimarum valle,’ you who suffered greatly from birth. You offered it all to her your sighs, your mourning and weeping of all your life. Intercede for us then who remain in this valley of tears, you who have been brought out of your exile up to the holy mountain of God.