Alma Redemptoris Mater

Alma Redemptoris Mater

“Sweet Mother of the Redeemer,
that passage to heaven,
gate of the morning, and star of the sea:
Assist the fallen, lift up, you who cure, the people:
you who bore to the wonderment of nature,
your holy Creator.Virgin before and after,
who received from Gabriel
that joyful greeting,
have mercy on us sinners”

Attributed to Hermanus Contractus, 1059

Known in Chaucer’s time: the Antiphon must have been very popular in England both before and after its treatment by Chaucer in his “Prioresses Tale”, which is based wholly on a legend connected with its recitation by the “Litel Clergeon”:

This litel childe his litel book lerninge,
As he sat in the scole at his prymer,
He Alma redemptoris herde singe,
As children lerned hir antiphoner;
And, as he dorste, he drough hym ner and ner,
And herkned ay the wordes and the note,
Till he the firste vers coude al by rote.