In my last post, I showed you frescoes on the theme of the Annunciation, executed by Fra Angelico, an artist and a saint. But today, our featured artist is Raphaël. As you know Marian art constitutes one of the richest areas of the Fine Arts.
However, Mariology is also an important source of sacred music. Just think how often the Ave Maria has been sung. I was brought up a Catholic child, but somehow I was not able to appreciate fully the importance of the Virgin in the arts and in sacred music until I started taking courses on the history of art and musicology. It was a wonderful rediscovery.
Given that I have written blogs on Mariology, Christmas and the Canonical Hours, my readers have already been introduced to the subject matter we are visiting today. For those of you who are new to my site, here are the links you may require:
- Fra Angelico & the Annunciation
- The Blessed Virgin: Mariology
- A Christmas Offering: Hymns to Mary
- Canonical Hours and the Divine Office
Fra Angelico & the Annunciation, my last post, contains a list of the four Marian Antiphons or Antiphonies (antiennes, in French):
- Alma Redemptoris Mater (Advent through February 2)
- Ave Regina Cælorum (Presentation of the Lord through Good Friday)
- Regina Cœli (Easter season)
- Salve Regina (from first Vespers of Trinity Sunday until None of the Saturday before Advent)
There are many other prayers to Mary, but the antiphonies, responsorial hymns, are at the centre of Marian Sacred Music, and the one attached to the Annunciation is the Ave Regina Cælorum. As of Good Friday, two days from now, the Marian antiphon will be the Regina Cœli.
It is therefore nearly too late to speak about the Ave Regina Cælorum. However, because there is so little time, I will quote Notre-Dame de Paris:
This Antiphony dedicated to Mary was used in Assumption services starting in the 12th century. This salute to the Queen of the Heavens, this radiant admiration uses every possible term for praise: Ave, Salve, Gaude, Vale.
On the Notre-Dame de Paris site, one can also read the following:
Since the 14th century, it has been the Spring Antiphony, maybe because it praises Mary as the earthly root, Salve radix, of this light that opens onto the world – isn’t spring the time when days get endlessly longer and life sprouts up from root to branch? At Notre-Dame de Paris, tradition has it that before the great mass, the Ave Regina is sung in front of the statue of the Queen of the Heavens, which is why this antiphony is sung every Sunday at the end of the Lauds service.
On the same site, it is also possible to hear the Ave Regina Cælorum (Notre-Dame de Paris), but I am including the Ave Regina Cælorum on YouTube.Orlando de Lassus (c. 1532 – 1594): Ave Regina Cælorum performers: Pro Cantione Antiqua
conductor: Bruno Turner photo: Mario De Biasi
The Tempi Madonna by Raphaël, 1508 © Micheline Walker
4 April 2012