Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Five Favourites: Hymns to Mary

Why yes, this is a Catholic blog. Hadn't you noticed? ;-)

It's the first Wednesday in May, so for this week's Five Favourites, I thought I'd do hymns to Our Lady.

Just before we get started, a note to any non-Catholic readers out there:

We pray to Our Lady, we venerate Our Lady, but worship is reserved for God alone. We can come to Jesus through Mary, like the disciples at Cana. She, the mother of God Incarnate, is a privileged intercessor - in a nutshell, Jesus listens to his mother. He listens to us, too, of course. But His Mother... she's special. She has the direct line, so to speak. Prayer to Mary is also a way of humbling ourselves. If you want to ask someone big and powerful and awesome and beyond our comprehension for something, what do you do? Do you go straight to him? Or do you ask the person who knows him best of all, who enjoys special favour, to help you? Sure, you can talk to The Boss too, but a word in His Mother's ear won't go amiss.

(Steps down from soap box and puts said box back in the cupboard where the small people can't get to it.)

So, without further ado... (and that was rather a lot of ado, wasn't it?)

1. Immaculate Mary, AKA the Lourdes Hymn.It's gorgeous, there are words in pretty much every language, and it even gets a bit political in later verses. I do like it when hymns get political.

2. As I Kneel Before You. This one takes me back to primary school assemblies, sitting on the floor in the hall and chewing the ends of my hair (bad habit, but I kicked it about 24 years ago). I can almost smell the slightly odd sent of climbing ropes and of school lunches cooking in the background. It's also responsible for a fair bit of my (extremely limited) Latin vocabulary.

3. Holy Virgin, by God's Decree. It's all about the music with this one. The words get a bit odd in places where they've tried to fit them in (You undertook/God's plan to embrace? What?), but it still works.

4. Daily, Daily, Sing to Mary. This one doesn't have the wistful tone of some of the others - it's more of a celebratory hymn. It's not my absolute favourite, but it's somewhere in the top ten, and it's a good contrast to the others.

5. Couronnée d'Etoiles. Sorry, but we're half'n'half around here, I couldn't just stick to English hymns! Just listen to it. There are some pretty terrible recordings on the internet, and done badly it's horrendous, but done properly? Shivers down the spine. Oh yes.

(Please ignore the slightly weird visuals. Also, funny story: the recording sounded strangely familiar. Turns out I was actually in the choir. It's a small world).

6. (Because I Just. Can't. Stop at five): Je Vous Salue Marie. Just the French words of the Hail Mary, set to music. It's beautiful.

I did think about putting a Magnificat or two on the list, but they're hymns with Mary, rather than to Mary... and I probably have enough favourites for a whole 'nother post! 

Linking up with Bonnie for Five Favourites - go on over!


  1. I laughed at your intro. I'm a Lutheran-turned-Catholic so I've totally heard all that before too. :) I'll confess that, while I've grown in my love of Mary since joining the Church, I think I only know the first song here. :( I'll have to look the others up and work on learning them! Thanks for sharing and for linking up with #5Faves this week. :)

    1. They're definitely worth a listen! We got quite a lot of exposure to Marian hymns etc. at school - Catholics in the UK have a bit of a minority-identity, no-we-are-not-in-any-way-similar-to-the-Church-of-England thing going on. Basically, the more we sing about/to Mary, the less likely anyone is to mistake us for Protestants, and in a region where about 90% of the Catholic population have Irish roots, that's considered to be a Very Bad Thing To Happen ;-)

    2. (and just in case anyone thinks I'm stirring up sectarian dissent, no offence meant to anyone on either side!)