Non Solum: Marian Anthem after Mass During the Month of May

A reader recently wrote in asking about the Marian anthems:

The parish that I recently started attending began singing the Regina Caeli after the closing hymn. After the closing hymn is sung the priest and minsters process down the aisle and to the statue of Mary. We then sing the Regina Caeli. When I asked why we began singing the Regina Caeli they said that this was the custom of the parish during May. Is this practice allowed, and do other parishes do it?

I have seen several parishes that follow a similar practice. There are four Marian anthems: Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina Caelorum, Regina Caeli, or Salve Regina. These anthems come from the Liturgy of the Hours and are traditionally sung at the close of Compline. Each of the four anthems corresponds to a particular liturgical season.

Alma Redemptoris Mater is sung from the First Sunday of Advent until the Feast of the Purification. Ave Regina Caelorum is sung after the Purification until the Easter Vigil. Regina Caeli is sung from Easter Eve until Pentecost. Salve Regina is sung from after Pentecost Sunday until the First Sunday of Advent.

I know that in some Marian houses it is customary for these anthems to be sung on Sundays and Marian feasts at the conclusion of Mass throughout the year. It is also the custom in churches and cathedrals on Christmas and Easter.

Since the singing of the anthems is after Mass, it appears that there is nothing requiring or prohibiting a parish from singing a Marian anthem after the closing hymn. I could be wrong.

It appears that the reason for the use of a Marian anthem in May comes from Pope Paul VI’s identification of the month of May as a devotional month to Mary.

Does your community sing the Regina Caeli after Mass during the month of May? What devotions does your community do to celebrate the Virgin Mary in the month of May?

Please comment below.

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10 comments

  1. The assignment of the antiphon/anthem after Night Prayer/Compline to particular times comes from the older Roman Breviary rather than the Liturgy of the Hours [as witnessed in the fact that the Alma is sung until Feb 2, the end of the Christmas season in the former liturgical calendar). The Liturgy of the Hours only mandates the Regina Caeli for Eastertide. Occasionally, it suggests particular ones (e.g. Ave Regina Caelorum for Aug 22)

  2. It would be interesting to find out whether any communities have attempted to shift the idea of calendar Marian ‘months’ (such as May or October) to a period in the liturgical calendar (e.g. Advent), and what measure of success has followed.

    The Regina Caeli is probably the most appropriate – the Directory on Popular Piety does suggest a Paschal focus when an overlap occurs between the calendar month and the 50 days of Easter. I have not, however, seen any of the suggested ideas of that directory in terms of a Paschal/Pentecost/Sacraments of Initiation focus. Rosary (fueled perhaps in part by the inserted op.memorial of OL Fatima on the 13th), May crownings and perhaps a novena or tridua seem to be the staple in many places.

  3. Our Tuesday evening Sung Masses at the Cathedral in Phoenix (http://www.facebook.com/CathedralChoirPhoenix) are lead by a cantor without accompaniment. Those Masses (and any other sung Masses throughout the year without an organist) end with the seasonal Marian antiphon. Since the Salve Regina is the most known and is sung for the longest period of time, it usually gets the most congregants singing along with it. The Regina Caeli, since it is short and pretty catchy to the modern ear, would come in second. I also noticed some distinct improvement in the second year of the Ave Regina Caelorum and look forward to seeing how the Alma Redemptoris Mater does in its second year. These chants are not hard and can be a “bilingual unifier” if a worship aid includes both English and Spanish translations.

  4. Our campus ministry Mass in Raleigh is in the evening, and the appropriate Marian antiphon almost always serves as our final song. The singing is quite strong.

  5. After the dismissal this Sunday we will process to the Marian shrine and sing the Regina Coeli, as was done on Easter. The same is done on other Marian feasts throughout the year – Assumption, Immaculate Conception, singing the appropriate anthem. The people “get it” and love it.
    The recessional will follow.

  6. Why not sing a Marian Easter carol (“Be Joyful, Mary, Heavenly Queen” immediately comes to mind) as one of the hymns during the Eucharist? No need to add when something appropriate is already available for use.

  7. We are doing the Regina Coeli this Sunday after Communion. I have suggested using Be Joyful Mary, Heavenly Queen and my personal favorite, Mary The Dawn. I had my children’s choir sing Mary The Dawn during May. They played metallophones (Orff instruments) as they sang. When it was over, no one moved. The presider just sat there with his eyes closed. Everyone commented on the overwhelming sense of peace throughout the church. I fondly remember Marian chants as a child. They can be a powerful instrument for prayer if done well and used wisely.

  8. Our bishop likes us to say the Angelus at the end off masses in Marian months. Those under 60 are slowly picking it up.

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