+L’s Little Liturgical Lesson: THE REGINA CAELI

  1. The recitation of this ‘anthem’ in worship is a lovely tradition certainly going back to the 13th century when it was invented by the followers of St Francis, who by the way loved the Mother of the Lord even more than he loved animals!
  2. REGINA CAELI is Latin for ‘Queen of heaven’ a title that touches on the belief that Mary, as the first person to accept Jesus into her life and as a result making it possible for us to do the same, is pre eminent among all the saints, while of course she remains one of us.
  3. There is a pious tradition that the words of the first three lines ‘came’ to St Gregory the Great (he was the pope who sent St Augustine to England) when he heard angels singing them one Easter morning in Rome..
  4. In our worship it replaces the final hymn during the Sundays of Eastertide, and is also used at the start of our daily prayers at 6 p.m.
  5. We sing it to the tune of ‘Jesus Christ is risen today’ and it is peppered with the untranslatable cry of the Christians : Alleluia!
  6. Although it is addressed to Mary, it is all about Jesus and his resurrection. The child who was formed in Mary’s womb bursts forth from the tomb!  And without that, as St Paul says, our faith would be in vain and we are the most to be pitied! (see 1 Corinthians 15:14ff)
  7. Addressing a song to Mary rests on the idea that the Church on earth and in heaven is but ONE COMMUNITY, and that in worship in particular we are united..One old English bishop used to say that if we could ‘see’ the church as God sees it when we worship we’d see it jam packed with angels and saints joining us in prayer and song….

 Joy to thee O Queen of heaven. Alleluia!
He whom thou wast meet to bear. Alleluia!
As he promised has arisen. Alleluia!
Pour for us to God thy prayer. Alleluia!

Rejoice and be glad O Virgin Mary, Alleluia!
For the Lord has risen indeed, Alleluia!