Given that the month of October is dedicated to the beauty of the rosary which was given to us through St Dominic in 2006, I have decided to look for and share seven beautiful hymns of Mary, Queen of Heaven and intercessor for all her children here on earth. Is it not beautiful to think of a loving mother surrounded by the saints in heaven, hearing our petitions and lovingly sharing them with Abba, our father and creator in Heaven?
For those not familiar with the Rosary – it can be described as Christocentric and provides, though meditation, the opportunity of prayerfully revisiting the life of Christ from the annunciation of His conception through to His death and resurrection. There were originally three sets of mysteries that one contemplates while praying the Our Father and the Hail Mary (words largely found within the bible) and the Glory be.
The original mysteries are the Joyful, The Sorrowful and the Glorious.
When we pray (or meditate on) the joyful mysteries we focus on the announcement of Christ’s coming birth, Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth; mother of St John – Jesus’ cousin. This is, of course, followed by Christ’s humble birth and then by our pondering Mary and Joseph’s obedience in presenting Christ – son of God, to God himself in the Temple. Lastly we meditate on the wonder of Jesus, as a child, being found in the Temple preaching to the elders there.
This set of mysteries is followed by the Sorrowful mysteries through which we contemplate the sorrow and agony of Christ’s passion and death on the cross. There are five mysteries in each set. In the sorrowful we have the agony of the garden, the scourging of Jesus, the crowning of thorns, His carrying of the cross. and His death through crucifixion.
The original set of three mysteries is completed with the Glorious mysteries. These are: the Resurrection, the Ascension of Christ, the descent of the Holy Spirit and the traditional belief that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven and, ultimately crowned Queen of Heaven.
In 2002 St John Paul II introduced another set of Mysteries – the Luminous -in a letter written to all Catholics. These are also called the Mysteries of the light (referencing Jesus as light of the world John 9:5) and they focus on Jesus’ public life during the three years of his ministry on earth. He saw the Luminous Mysteries as a bridge between the early years of Christ’s life and his suffering and death which are covered in the joyful and sorrowful mysteries.
The five Luminous Mysteries are: The Baptism of Jesus at the River Jordan, his first miracle at the wedding of Cana. followed by Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God. Then we have the transfiguration of Jesus on Mt Tabor when he revealed himself as the son of God. Lastly we have the institution of the Eucharist through the celebration of the Last Supper.
Though Catholics recite the rosary we do not, under any circumstance, worship Mary. We do revere her as Mother of God and often ask her to intercede for us. This tradition of asking Mary to pray for us is based on old testament examples of the Mother Queen of Israel in addition to the example of Jesus’ obedience to her request to come to the assistance of the wedding party in Cana despite his initial response: “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” John 2:1-11
If one wishes to learn more about the Virgin Mary I recommend that you look into Scott Hahn and his many books. While there are many resources available about Mary, I have both read and listened to Scott and so feel comfortable recommending him.
In the mean time – I leave you with seven beautiful Marian hymns for you to peruse and enjoy during this month of the Rosary. Dare I say it but we have only FIFTY SEVEN days before Advent begins on Sunday November 29th this year. I won’t add to your stress by telling you how many days until Christmas but for those who just have to know – go here. it will tell you down to the very second!
Quick Take one: The Hymn The Seven Joys of Mary has an alternative title of The Very First Joy That Mary Had. You can listen to it here as sung by the Choir of Kings College and read the lyrics here.
Quick Take two: Regina Coeli is an ancient marian hymn, you can learn more about it here, and hear it sung in Latin here. In English the title of this hymn is Queen of Heaven.
Quick take three: O Sanctissima is another time honoured marian hymn which is often sung on marian feast days. You can listen to it here and read more about it here.
Quick take four: Hail Star of the Sea, or Ave Maris Stella, is a hymn that was very popular in the middle ages and is still often sung today. Listen to it here as sung by the Daughters of Mary and read more about it here. (By the way – if you click on the link that takes you to the Daughters of Mary – you will discover that they sell CDs of very beautiful music to which you can listen to clips of before buying.)
Quick take five: A Rose Has Sprung Up is considered both a Christmas carol and Marian hymn which is popular both with Catholics and Protestants alike and apparently can be centered on Mary or Jesus. It is of German origin and the original title was Es ist ein Ros Entsprungen. Click here to listen to it in German and here to read more.
Quick take Six: My sixth hymn is The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came and while it is Gabriel in the title this hymn is clearly about Mary. I have to admit its more a Christmas carol than a Marian hymn but its so beautiful especially when sung by the Choir of Kings college. If you want to read the lyrics go here.
Quick take seven: I will leave you with the beautiful hymn the Magnificat which I especially love when sung by John Michael Talbot. This piece has a long instrumental introduction but in my humble opinion is just beautiful. You can read more about this hymn here.
If you are finished enjoying the various hymns I’ve share with you here you should mosey on over to This Ain’t the Lyceum and see what other Quick Takes have been shared today. Next month I will be back with ideas of how to get through the month of November. It will be quite different from last year’s suggestions. Until then I bid you adieu!