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Putti, by Raphaël

Putti (Chérubins), by Raphaël

Marian Antiphons (Antiennes)

Today, 2 February 2015, we are entering the Marian year’s second season, the first takes us from Advent to Candlemas (la Chandeleur), once an observed feast commemorating the presentation of the child Jesus at the Temple. The second lasts until Good Friday.

In other words, as of today the Marian song is the Ave Regina Cælorum. From the beginning of Advent until today, it had been the Alma Redemptoris Mater. Several composers have set the words of the Alma Redemptoris Mater and the same is true of the Ave Regina Cælorum.

In the Church of England, today, Candlemas, is the end of the Epiphany season which follows the Christmas season.

The “Nunc dimittis” or Canticle of Simeon (Cantique)

Also sung today is the Nunc dimittis (“Now you dismiss…,” Luke 2:29–32), The Song of Simeon or Canticle of Simeon). Simeon had been promised he would see Jesus and didA canticle is a song of praise. In this respect, the Nunc Dimittis resembles the Magnificat, or Canticle of Mary.  Mary sang the Magnificat when she heard her cousin Elizabeth was with child. To listen to the Nunc Dimittis and read its story, simply click on one of the links below:

Groundhog Day

Moreover, today is Groundhog Day. How long will winter last? See the link below.


Humans have always situated their feasts when a change occurs in the weather. We go from season to season and the following year, we also go from season to season and this continues year after year.

The Labours of the Months

Remember Jean de France’s Très Riches Heures. (See Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry). It’s a Book of Hours, but it is also a calendar. The Très Riches Heures has a large illuminated (enluminures) page for each month of the year illustrating the Labours of the Months.  With Jean de France, there was another motive. In the background of each page, we see one of his castles.

Greek poet Hesiod, who is believed to have been active between 750 and 650 BCE, wrote Works and Days, a book Wikipedia describes as a farmer’s almanac. In Works and Days, he is teaching his brother Perses about the agricultural arts. (See Works and Days.)

Although we are leaving the first Marian season, I am including both the Alma Redemptoris Mater and the Ave Regina Cælorum.


During Canonical Hours, the Antiphon (antienne) is a liturgical chant that precedes and follows a Psalm or a Canticle.  In a Mass, it is also a chant to which a choir or the congregation respond with a refrain.  It is therefore a call and response chant.

Sources and Resources

Hesiod’s Works and Days (r. 700 BCE) is an online publication (click on the title).


Posts on Marian Hymnology & More

composer: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (3 February 1525 or 2 February 1526 – 2 February 1594)
piece: Alma Redemptoris Mater
performers: Cappella Gregoriana (Tokyo, Japan)
From First Vespers of Christmas until the Presentation
piece: Ave Regina Cælorum
performers: Philippe Jaroussky (French countertenor, b. 13 February 1978)
Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Quebec contralto, b. 26 June 1975)
From the Presentation of the Lord through Good Friday
Raffael_027© Micheline Walker
2 February 2013
2 February 2015