Our Lady of Sorrows

September 15, 2011

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Today we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.  This follows immediately after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross showing that there is a link between the two and presenting our Blessed Mother as the faithful disciple who traversed Calvary to stand at the foot of the Cross.

Aside from the well known Stabat Mater, which is the optional sequence for the day, the Dominicans also sang the Recordare as the Offertory Antiphon for the day.  Here is the text and a translation of the version found in the Dominican liturgical books (as opposed to the Roman Graduale):

     “Recordare Virgo mater, dum steteris in conspectu Dei, ut loquaris pro nobis bona, et ut avertas indignationem suam a nobis.”

     “Remember Virgin mother, when you stand in the presence of God, that you speak good things for us, and that you avert his indignation from us.”

This text comes from Jer. 18:20, and in the Dominican version, the text is slightly different than the Roman version.  In our text, there is a specific reference to the Blessed Mother standing in the presence of the Lord (while the Roman version simply leaves that out).  This creates the connection with the collect for the day, both at the Office and at Mass which states:

“Father, as your Son was raised on the cross, his mother Mary stood by him, sharing his sufferings.  May your Church be united with Christ in his suffering and death and so come to share in his rising to new life…”

Secondly, note the incredibly long and beautiful melisma (more than one note on a syllable) on “a” at the end.  You might wonder why the melisma is put there.  It is to signify in a very vivid way how earnestly we desire the Blessed Mother’s protection and how far away we want the Lord’s wrath to be kept from us.  As you can see, chant has a beautiful way of expressing the theology and meaning behind the text.

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