The Marian Antiphon for this season is the Ave Regina Caelorum. Although it is specifically sung after Compline (Night Prayer), we will include it after we complete Vespers each evening. We will follow the same steps we took for learning the Pater Noster, adding some additional info about chant notation as we go along.
But first: what are we singing? The Ave Regina Caelorum is one of the four Marian Antiphons, this one being sung from after the Feast of the Presentation (starting on Feb. 3rd) to Wednesday in Holy Week. I hope to offer a more thorough post about the Marian Antiphons in the future, but today we are just going to focus on learning the chant. It might be helpful to read the translation a couple of times to get it in your mind and heart so that you have a sense of what you are praying when you sing.
Hail, Queen of heaven, hail Lady of the angels. Hail root and gate from which the Light of the world was born. Rejoice glorious Virgin, fairest of all. Fare thee well, most beautiful, and pray for us to Christ.
1. Establish the scale
As we did with the Pater Noster, we first figure out the scale by setting the do clef (it’s placed on the 4th line in this chant). You will notice that all of the ti [tee] notes in this chant are flat, which means that ti will change to te [teh]. The nice thing with solfege is that ti is the only note that can be flattened, so if you see a flat, you know it is always te. With this audio, I will play the scale with ti first to have it fresh in your mind, then play the scale with te. When you sing along, be sure to say the correct word.
Also, I started with do on A# and ascended all the way up to re because we have that one high note in the chant – sing through it a couple of times to get your voice comfortable with the range.
do / re / mi / fa / sol / la / ti or te / do / re
2. Learning the melody through solfege:
*the pace is a bit faster than is ideal, but it is still okay for learning*
The squiggly neum in the cluster of three above the fa-sol-la is a qualisma – it means that the note before the squiggle is given a “heavier” feel, which then makes the next note feel light so that it kinda gives a little skip as it moves to the the top note.
Also – if you haven’t noticed – pay attention to the little mini notes at the very end of each line – they tell you what the note is at the beginning of the next line
(BTW – that the neum for the te-do-re in the last line are stacked differently than in the actual chant. That’s a typo (which would require more effort than it is worth to fix) – you can still sing it the same way)
3. Latin Pronunciation:
A -ve Re -gi -na cae -lo -rum, A -ve Do -mi -na An -ge -lo
Ah-veh Reh –gee -nah cheh –loh –room, Ah –veh Doh –mee –nah Ahn –geh –loh
-rum: Sal -ve ra -dix, sal -ve por -ta, Ex qua mun -do lux est
–room: Sahl –veh rah –deex, sahl –veh pohr –tah, Ehx quah moon –doh loox ehst
or -ta: Gau -de Vir -go glo -ri -o -sa, Su -per o -mnes spe
ohr –tah: Gahu –deh Veer –goh gloh –ree –oh –sah, Soo –pehr oh –mnehs speh
-ci -o -sa: Va -le, o val -de de -co -ra, Et pro no -bis
chee –oh –sah: Vah –leh, oh vahl –deh deh –ko –rah, Eht proh noh –bees
Chris -tum ex -o -ra.
Krees -toom ehx –oh -rah.
4. Melody + Latin
After singing a few times with the video, see if you can sing it on your own with the music at the top of this post.
…and just for fun – here is the chant in the Solemn Tone: