Sunday, 3 February 2013

Latin prayer of the week: Ave regina caelorum


Apologies for the extremely sporadic posting of late, I'm afraid I'm still fairly unwell.  Extreme fatigue is one of the symptoms, which means blogging will continue to be intermittent for a while, despite having more than a few topics lined up that I've meaning hoping to comment on or draw your attention to!

Nonetheless, I thought I could at least resume my Latin prayer a week series, so today a look at the Marian antiphon used at Compline between the Feast of the Purification and Holy Wednesday, Ave Regina Caelorum.

Ave regina caelorum

Hail Queen of Heaven possibly dates from the twelfth century, and was originally used on the feast of the Assumption.

Here is the text of the antiphon:

Ave, Regina Caelorum,
Ave, Domina Angelorum:
Salve, radix, salve, porta
Ex qua mundo lux est orta:

Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa,
Vale, o valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.

And here is a loose translation of it:

Hail, O Queen of Heaven enthroned.
Hail, by angels mistress owned.
Root of Jesse, Gate of Morn
Whence the world's true light was born:

Glorious Virgin, Joy to thee,
Loveliest whom in heaven they see;
Fairest thou, where all are fair,
Plead with Christ our souls to spare.

Looking at the Latin

First, here is a word by word translation of the Latin, with a few notes:

Ave (hail) Regina (queen) Caelorum (of heaven),

Note that heaven in Latin is plural, so it is literally be 'queen of the heavens'.

Ave (hail), Domina (lady) Angelorum (of the angels):

Lady perhaps doesn't convey the sense of the phrase here well - perhaps 'mistress' is better?

Salve (hail/greeting), radix (root), salve (hail), porta (gate)

Salve and Ave basically means the same thing, and neither have a real equivalent in modern English, since 'hello' is a bit too casual!  Root is short for 'root of Jesse', a reference to Our Lady as of the house of David (see Isaiah 11).  The gate in question is probably meant to be that of heaven, but an alternative explanation makes it the gate of the morning, to go with the reference to the light.

Ex (from) qua (whom) mundo (the world) lux (light) est (is/has) orta (come forth/arisen/appeared):

Est here is part of the verb orior, oriri, ortus sum, to rise, cone forth, appear or spring up.

Gaude (rejoice), Virgo (virgin) gloriosa (glorious)

An imperative.

Super (above) omnes (all things) speciosa (beautiful)

Vale (farewell), o valde (very much, exceedingly) decora (comely/becoming),

Salve is the standard Latin greeting; vale is the standard parting.

Et (and) pro (for) nobis (us) Christum (to Christ) exora (entreat/implore).

And for those who would like to learn to sing it, follow the music below....

1 comment:

peterV said...

Welcome back Kate. I thought you must have been ill. Please look after yourself and don't get too tired. Your blog is very valuable, and I check it everyday. however, your health is more important.

Best wishes

(Peter van der Schoot)