Alma Redemptoris Mater

December 5, 2012

For the seasons of Advent and Christmas the usual Compline hymn to Our Lady (viz. Salve Regina) is replaced by Alma Redemptoris Mater. I do not know it nearly as well as I ought to. Care to practice with me?

O loving Mother of our Redeemer,
Gate of heaven, Star of the sea,
Hasten to aid thy fallen people who strive to rise again.
Thou who brought forth thy holy Creator,
All creation wond’ring, yet remainest ever Virgin,
Taking from Gabriel’s lips that joyful “Hail!”:
Be merciful to us sinners.

From such a humble thread, many glories have been woven. Here is a resplendent performance of a setting, for six voices, by Diego Ortiz. (The conductor’s manner in this video comes perilously close to being antic, but I give him the benefit of the doubt. The sound he coaxes from his choir covers a multitude of sins. And don’t give up on this too soon; it gets better as it goes on.)

(Hat-tip: The Chant Cafe)

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4 Responses to “Alma Redemptoris Mater”

  1. Craig Says:

    The Diego Ortiz video and music is wonderful. Really beautiful. The conductor is perhaps a little too self conscious of his conductor status, but it is really beautiful. A gem, I think.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. cburrell Says:

    I agree. He is acting like he’s conducting Mahler’s Adagietto (and then some), but who cares? The music is gorgeous. “A gem” is right.

  3. Osbert Parsley Says:

    If you want to learn the chant for the “Alma redemptoris mater,” it is worth taking the extra time to learn the solemn form of the chant, which has some similarities to the similar tone but is quite a bit more ornate. This is one of my favourite melodies in the entire plainchant repertory:

    There are lots of great polyphonic settings of “Alma” and the other Marian antiphons – I’m currently working on a large research project on the polyphonic Salve Regina, and the incredible adornment lavished upon this text by sixteenth-century composers is truly amazing. For the “Alma” text, I particularly like this setting by Lheritier:

  4. cburrell Says:

    You are right, Osbert, I want to learn the solemn version! Very beautiful. I also love the solemn version of the “Salve Regina”, but there are one or two spots where I can’t quite remember how it goes.

    I would be hard pressed to choose a favourite polyphonic Salve Regina — or Alma Redemptoris Mater, for that matter. Composers of that period did lavish much of their most beautiful music on the Marian texts. And I am grateful to them for it. Both the Ortiz and the Lheritier are new to me.


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