Music Monday: Regina Caeli
It's Easter! If you say the Divine Office, you know that Compline or Night Prayer always ends with an antiphon to Our Lady. The particular antiphon changes according to season. During Christmas, the "Alma Redemptoris Mater" reflects the birth of Christ; during Lent, the "Ave Regina Caelorum" appeals to Mary as "the door through which the Light of the world is risen". At Paschaltide, the "Regina Caeli" throws in LOTS of alleluias for an exultant praise of the mother of our Risen Lord.
V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
In Gregorian Chant, there are two tones for the responsory (the first four lines). Both the simple tone and the solemn tone are beautiful and joyful!
You can hear how the solemn tone is really the simple tone, with a lot of "flowery" stuff added in. The simple tone forms the skeleton of the solemn melody.
Besides the chant, there are some lovely choral and polyphonic settings of the antiphon. One more well-known, and one of my favorites, is by Antonio Lotti. It is just so overwhelmingly cheerful! When I've sung this in the past, it's impossible not to smile while singing:
In poking around for this post, I also discovered a version by Gregor Aichinger which is a bit more restrained, but equally exultant.
Mozart pulls out all the stops on his setting! The orchestra lends its own flair to the choir's angelic rejoicing. This piece, which is significantly longer than most others, adds a soprano soloist to the choral elements and orchestral interludes.
This is just a small sampling of the wide variety that's out there! A last one for good measure, which I fell in love with while exploring YouTube. Adding the brass helped, but I think what I like about it is the mixture of the original chant melody with a clean-cut orchestral sound, but with a richness and texture that reminds me of the Baroque.