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.