Roman Catholic Marian music

Roman Catholic Marian music

Roman Catholic Marian music shares a trait with some other forms of Christian music in adding another emotional dimension to the process of veneration and in being used in various Marian ceremonies and feasts. Marian music is now an "inherent element" in many aspects of the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Roman Catholic Mariology.

Throughout the centuries Marian music has grown and progressed, and witnessed a resurgence along with the Renaissance, e.g. with the composition of the Ave Maria motet by Josquin Desprez. The tradition continued with a number of great composers up to the late 19th century, e.g. with Giuseppe Verdi's "Ave Maria" in 1880 followed by his "Laudi alla Vergine Maria". [Verdi: "Ave Maria" [] ] [Verdi: Laudi alla Vergine Maria [] ] .

Marian music varies by season (e.g. Christmas, Easter, etc.) and by form (e.g. chant, art song, etc).

aint Ambrose

One of the oldest Marian intonations is credited to Saint Ambrose of Milan (339-374). The Church names an ancient liturgy after him (Ambrosian rite), which actually existed before him, but for whose today’s form he is called the main author. [Paredi, Marienlexikon, 176] Some 870 parishes in the diocesis in Milan still use the ancient Ambrosian rite. Several Ambrosian rite Marian texts were intonated, for example the famous Gaude: [Paredi 176]

":Gaude et latare:Exultation angelorum :Gaude domini virgo:Prophetarum gaudium:Gaudeas benedicta:Dominus tecum est:Gaude, que per angelum gaudium mundi suscepisti:Gaude que genuisti factorum et Dominum:Gaudeas que dignas es esse mater Christi"

Marian hymns by Ambrose include the "Confractorium" from the Christmas liturgy, and in a poetic creation of Saint Ambrose, celebrating the Mother of God: "Intende, qui Regis Israel." [Paredi 177]

Marian Music for the Liturgy of the Hours

One of the earliest medieval Marian compositions is the popular Salve Regina in Latin from a Benedictine monk at the Reichenau Island (Lake Constance), which exists in serveral Gregorian versions. The liturgy of the hour includes several offices to be sung. At the close of the Office, one of four "Marian antiphons" is sung. These songs, Alma Redemptoris Mater Ave Regina caelorum, Regina caeli, and Salve Regina, have been described as "among the most beautiful creations of the late Middle Ages." [Willi Apel, "Gregorian Chant" p. 404.]

Other Marian supplications exist in numerous Latin versions as well [(Sub tuum praesidium, Seven Dolours of the Virgin, Seven Joys of the Virgin )] It is difficult to trace the beginning of non-Gregorian Marian liturgical music. In the year 1277 Pope Nicholas III prescribed rules for liturgy in Roman churches. [Bäumer, 652] Three years later, in 1280, Petrus de Cruce published his Marian anthem "Ave virgo regia, Ave gloriosa O maria Maris stella." Later, composer Perotin followed with his "Alleluja, Navitatis gloriosae virginis," to be sung at the feast of the birth of Mary. Marian mottets became very popular in the Middle Ages. A large collection of which is in in St Paul Cathedral in London [Bäumer, 652] Pope John XXII 1316—34 issued the apostolic constitution Docta SS Patrum about Church music. It was the first music modern regulations for musical presentation during the liturgy [Bäumer, 652]

Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Mozart, Haydn and others are well known composers who contributed to Marian music. Less known is the fact, that before 1802, the secularisation, many religious congregations had their own composers. [In Germany, in the monastery of Andechs, Father Nonnosus Madleder, in Ottobeuren, Father Franx Schnizer, in Irsee Father Meinrad Spiess, and in Banz] A totally unknown Father Valentin Rathgeber OSB, (1682-1750) wrote 43 masses, 164 offertories 24 concerts and, 44 Marian antiphones. Missa de Beata Virgine and the Messe de Nostre Dameare examples of individual contributions. Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine has remained structurally unchanged for the past 1500 years. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed in honour of the Virgin Mary Latin masses and several shorter opera: [Dixit & Magnificat KV 193: C-Major,Regina Coeli KV 108: C- Major, Regina Coeli KV 127: B- Major, Graduale Sancta Maria KV 273, Offertorium Alma Dei creatoris KV 277, Litaniae de Beata Maria Virgine KV 109] Other known classic composers with Marian compositions mainly in Latin include Orlando di Lasso and [

Marian plays and songs

In France begins in the 12th century the tradition of Christmas dramas, in which the nativity events are reproduced by actors. This becomes popular in other European countries as well, and is seen as the origin of popular Christmas carols, which were an integral part of the Christmas drama. These early Christmas songs are largely devotions to the Mother of God. Early manifestations are in Bavaria in the 12 century [Kloster Benediktbeuren, Seckau,] At the same time, Easter songs are often converted into Marian hyms, for example the hymn "Te virgini Mariae laudes concinant Christianae". The assumption of Mary is praised in numerous songs from the 10th century, [Ave dei genitrx …cuius nunc regni dominando , tu possides ut mater filii .] In several songs, Mary is praised to be above all saints and angels and participates in the kingdom of her son. Her assumption is “wished by the faithful people” in a song from the 12th century [Exulta exaltata Gottschalk von Limburg] The Marian songs and hymns in this epoch are too numerous to mention. They include pious excitement even some exaggerations, and valuable insights into the Marian belief, especially in the assumption.

Ave, salve and gaude hmns

Examples of Ave (Hail Mary)songs include, [Mäumker, Kirchenlieder aus dem 12th Jahrhundert,] : Ave dei genitrix, caelstium terrestrium infernorum domina; : Ave spes mundi, Maria, ave mitis, ave pia; : Ave plena, signulari gratia

Examples of Salve songs include the:Salve regina, mater misericordiae: Salve prodis Davidis

Gaude (Rejoice) hymns include::Gaude Maria templum summae majestatis:Gaude mater luminisGaude, plaude, clara Rosa

Vale (farewell) and Mater dolorosa (mother of sorrows) are also subjects of numerous Marian hymns. [Engelhardt, Marienkunde, 1336]

Holy Mass Music

The ancient Latin Gregorian Chant masses include two Marian musical masses "In solemnitatibus et Festis Beatae Mariae Virginis and in Festis et Memoriis" [Graduale Romanum, Kyriale IX And X.] It seems that vocal compositons of Holy Mass music, - always including Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, benedictus and Agnus Dei sections,- were developed after music was composed for the Liturgy of the Hours. [Bäumer, 652] Palestrina is among the more well-known composers, and the list of compositions by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina includes numerous Marian masses:

* Missa Salve Regina
* Missa Alma Redemptoris
* Missa Assumpta est Maria
* Missa Regina coeli
* Missa de beata Virgine
* Missa Ave Regina coelorum
* Missa Descendit Angelus Domini
* Missa O Virgo simul et Mater

Marian music during the Baroque period

The Marian music in the baroque period is strongly influenced by the Latin tradition, but develops its own characteristics. Marian songs venerate her exceptional sanctity. Many Marian songs have the form of litanies, expressing adoration of Mary. Others moralize the faithful in light of her virtuous life. [Büse, Marienkunde,585] In Poland and Hungary, baroque Marian compositions stress her national protective powers for the Polish and Hungarian nation, an aspect largely missing in Italy, France and Germany, where Mary is likely to be called upon to protect a city or region rather than a nation. [Büse 585] Many Latin Marian hymns are now translated into vernacular language, especially in Germany under the influence of Lutheran use of the vernacular in liturgy. Latin texts are often enriched with flowery adorations and Marian praises. Marian poetry, and based on this, Marian music flourishes most in countries without reformation influence, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. [Büse 589]

Marian music in the Enlightenment era

There are less but important composition in this period. Joseph Haydn wrote several Marian compositions including two famous Marian Masses. [Missa in honorem Beatissimae Virginis Mariae, No. 5 in E flat major, also known as the Grosse Orgelmesse (Great Organ Mass) (H. 22/4) (1766) and Missa Cellensis, Mariazellermesse No. 8 in C major, (H. 22/8) (1782)] Mozart and Franz Schubert made major contributions as well.


* "Marian Music Collection at the University of Dayton" []
* Konrad Algermissen, "Lexikon der Marienkunde," Pustet, Regensburg, 1967
* Remigius Bäumer, Leo Scheffczyk (Hrsg.) "Marienlexikon Gesamtausgabe," Institutum Marianum Regensburg, 1994, ISBN 3-88096-891-8 (cit. Bäumer)


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