The Armchair Liturgist: Marian Music

armchair1.jpgHere’s a question for the musically-inclined. How broad should a parish repertoire be on Marian music? Most everybody has enough hymns and songs to fill at least one Mass. Should there be more? What I mean is this: should the distinctive Marian observances like Assumption and Immaculate Conception and the other major observed feasts each have one or more pieces of music exclusively for those particular liturgies?

If you think so, what would be the hymns you would use for the upcoming feast of the Assumption, and only for the Assumption?

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Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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10 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Marian Music

  1. Rusty says:

    Introit Antiphon:
    A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. (Rev 12:1)

    Offertory Antiphon:
    Mary has been taken up to heaven; the angels rejoice. They bless the Lord and sing his praises.
    – or –
    By you the gates of paradise have been opened to us; today you triumph gloriously with the angels.
    – or –
    Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.

    Communion Antiphon: All generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. (Lk 1:48-49)

  2. Charles in CenCA says:

    Overlooked Marian pieces, surprisingly from OCP:

    “A Woman Clothed With the Sun” M.D. Ridge
    “Magnificat” (Finlandia, arr. J.Sullivan-Whitaker)

    (GIA) Mary’s Canticle – Leon Roberts

  3. Todd says:

    Good suggestions, you two. But the antiphons don’t completely satisfy as the two Scriptural ones allude to the Immaculate Conception, not the Assumption. Also, what psalms would you use with these antiphons that would be distinctively “Assumption?”

  4. Jeff Pinyan says:

    There’s a psalm that mentions the Lord going up into his kingdom in heaven, and His ark with Him.

    Also the one about the Queen at His right hand arrayed in gold of ophir.

  5. Charles in CenCA says:

    Well, Todd, I may have missed the Assumption mark, but you did at first include the general question of how broad a Marian repertoire…
    Just stayed away from the big gun Ave Marias, Ave Maris Stellas, Magnificats et al.

  6. Todd says:

    Charles, you’re right.

    I’m wondering if the more “utilitarian” Marian repertoire some of us use on every Marian feast fails to communicate to or form the assembly into the particulars of Marian celebration or doctrine.

  7. Gavin says:


    I (used to) use “Hail Holy Queen” only on Assumption, and “Immaculate Mary” only on Immaculate Conception. Other than that, I’d say Catholics should ideally know ALL of the chant antiphons for after the hours: Salve Regina, etc – I don’t even know the titles! At any rate, I’ll make sure my next Catholic parish gets crackin’ on learning those.

    Additional Marian hymns:
    O Sanctissima, Daily Daily Sing to Mary, Stainless the Maiden (a hymn in WLP’s hymnals set to the Polish “Serdeczna Matko)

    Marian Masses for me would typically have one “normal” hymn or an antiphon, a Marian hymn or anthem, my usual “responsorial” Communion, and a shmaltzy thing like O Sanctissima at the end. I think if we’re not eating the sandwich, we can actually get a lot of mileage out of the 5 hymns everyone knows.

  8. Jim McK says:

    I suspect that “Hail Mary” and “the Almighty has done great things for me” were applied to the Assumption long before anyone conceived of the immaculate conception.
    It is difficult to segregate them like that, since they are both rays from the bright sun of the Incarnation, the greatest thing that God did for Mary.

  9. Charles in CenCA says:

    Another factor to consider- Feast Days specific to Mary, Patroness of ____.
    For example, here in CenCA we would only use the Portuguese “A treze de Maio” for a Fatima festa, but not for a Holy Ghost lodge festa, where we might choose another Marian text that is non-specific to other feast days. We also deal with that on Dec. 12th, OLOGuadalupe.
    Back to OCP-
    Some of their more recent inclusions that are quite worthy of generic look-sees include:
    “There is nothing told” C. Willcocks (it’s actually been around for decades.)
    “Song of Mary” Schutte
    “Let it be done to us/Tu voluntad, Senor” B. Hurd

  10. Liam says:

    Trying to separate liturgical texts regarding the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption is a rather unCatholic literalist approach. The two are interrelated in Catholic theology, because the Immaculate Conception anticipates the theosis and consequent glorification of the BVM. So don’t quibble about the antiphons – they are quite sound indicators of appropriate textual choices.

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