Thanks to Our Lady (Music for Mondays)

This post is by Allison Salerno.
I’d guess that Mary, the poor unmarried Jewish teenager who 2,000 years ago agreed to bear the Son of God at considerable personal risk, is the most famous woman who ever lived. Certainly, she is the most remarkable. We Catholics dedicate the month of May to her – not because we worship her or think she gives us salvation. We honor Mary because she is in heaven, reigns as its queen, and can pray for us. Always, she leads us to her son.

So it’s no surprise that Catholics throughout the ages have sung songs dedicated to Our Lady, who is the mother of us all. I thought it would be fun to share a few. (Along with a photo of a work by contemporary sculptor Enrique de la Vega.)

Blogger Lee Strong posted this tune by The Thirsting, a five-piece Catholic alternate/rap/rock band from Vancouver, Washington. The group largely plays gigs on the West Coast and in the Midwest. I hope they would consider a visit to New Jersey!

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Danielle Rose, whose work I discovered this winter, created an entire CD of musical reflections in varied styles to all 20 mysteries of the Rosary. Danielle Rose now is Sister Rose Therese, living in a convent near Amarillo, Texas and no longer performing professionally. Here is her tune from her “Mysteries” CD, using the same prayer but radically different style than The Thirsting: Hail Holy Queen.
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Paul McCartney, who was baptized Roman Catholic, has said this piece is about the memory of his mother, Mary McCartney. Take a look at the joy and longing in the faces of the audience members and see how this work of art transcends a son’s struggle to honor his mother.

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Bono, whose father was Roman Catholic, was raised Anglican and married in the Anglican Church. The lead singer of Ireland’s U2 rock band says “Magnificent,” is based on Mary’s Magnificat.

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Okay, I had to slip Joan Baez in. She isn’t Catholic; her parents were drawn to Quakerism and she has said “Singing is my religion.” Her rendition of the Blessed Mother’s life is, as like all her work, spectacular.

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The faithful have been singing about and to Our Lady for hundreds of years. Saint Ambrose of Milan, a Doctor of the Church, lived in the fourth century. He is widely credited with writing one of the most ancient hymns to Mary. Here it is, sung by a schola at the Basilca de San Marco in Saint Ambrose’s hometown.

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  • Frank

    Allison! Not bad for your first "Music for Mondays" post. Bravo Zulu ;^).

  • Abbey

    I'm intrigued!!

  • Allison

    @Abbey: Which songs intrigued you? Do you have your own favorite songs to Mary?

  • Maria

    The Thristing…That is some version of Salve Regina! I discovered Danielle Rose this year too. I like her…Some Mary minutae for the bored:The Glories of Mary is a classic book in the field of Roman Catholic Mariology, written during the 18th century by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church.The book was written at a time when some Jansenists (which were declared heretical by the Pope) were criticizing Marian devotions, and was written in part as a defense of Mariology. The book combines numerous citations in favor of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Church Fathers and the Doctors of the Church with Saint Alphonsus' own personal views on Marian veneration and includes a number of Marian prayers and practices.The first part of the book focuses on the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen) prayer and explains how God gave Mary to mankind as the "Gate of Heaven". On this topic, St. Alphonsus quoted Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, namely:No one can enter Heaven unless by Mary, as though through a door.I was born in the Marion year 1954 and named after Our Lady. Little did I know many decades ago how much I would need her…and what her love would mean to me…

  • Maria

    Whoops. Minutiae.

  • Allison

    Maria: If you liked The Thirsting's version of Salve Regina (not sure you did?) check them out on youtube. Very powerful prolife stuff etc.I never have heard we can only enter heaven unless by Mary; my understanding is our salvation depends on living a life of faith within the sacramental life of the Church.Anyone else have thoughts or can you clarify Maria?

  • Michael

    Absolutely loved this! Music for the heart and soul! I have never heard of Joan Baez – how hauntingly beautiful! After listening to this and being "transported" into another realm, I had to get out my favourite – Marilla (Ness) and carry on listening.Thanks for your efforts – this was great!Regards and blessngs.

  • Allison

    @Michael: you must be a lot younger than me! I grew up listening to records of Joan Baez. I am so glad you enjoyed all the music. Blessings to you.

  • Voltaire

    Love Mary! Love Joan Baez! Thank you!

  • Maria

    "Mankind was unworthy to receive the Word directly from God, so Mary was our Mediatrix in the Incarnation, and she continues to exercise that function. No one comes to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and embraces His holy law except through her; no one obtains the saving gift of faith except by her prayers. Her mission, to which she is ever faithful, is to give us Jesus. He must be received from her hands, and in vain do we seek Him elsewhere." –St. Peter Julian EymardOur Lady of the Most Blessed SacramentWe have the saying in the Church "Ad Jesum per Mariam'–To Jesus through Mary. She leads us to Him.See this link will get you started. It is way over my head…Mary is our Mediatrix, the Mother of God, but the Mother of the Church…

  • Patrick O’Hannigan

    Patty Griffin sings an even better and more poignant version of "Mary" than Joan Baez does — and that's saying something!

  • Allison

    @Maria and others: But what does our Catechism teach? I absolutely do not believe it teaches we only will be saved through the intervention of Mary. @Patrick: I will check it out.

  • Allison

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The "she" refers to the Church not to Mary. 169 Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation." Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith.please not that Mary is not the source of our salvation – her fiat enabled God's salvation through Jesus Christ.511 The Virgin Mary "cooperated through free faith and obedience in human salvation" (LG 56). She uttered her yes "in the name of all human nature" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 30, 1). By her obedience she became the new Eve, mother of the living.

  • Sarah Harkins

    I love this post, Allison! Great music. I tried to find some good and interesting music for the month of Mary too, but had some trouble finding very much. You have a good selection here. About Maria's statement- if we believe that Mary is the fountain of all Graces- the Mediatrix of all graces, and that God bestowed this honor on her, then I think we can deduce that everyone who is in heaven is there because of those graces that have flowed through Mary- whether or not that person realized it came from Mary or not. I don't think it's unrealistic to believe that Mary has a role in the salvation of every human being when we she is the Mother of us all.

  • Maria

    I have little time on-line these days, having returned to work. Did you check out this link? Church is indeed our Mother, and Mary the Mother of the Church…

  • Anonymous

    You might appreciate the following article on Our Lady that appeared in this week's L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO. Here is the link: