Thursday, July 18, 8013

Germany - Herman (1013-1054) - Antiphon

Herman the Cripple (1013-1054) - Marian Antiphon

Alma Redemptoris Mater (c. 1043)

Hermann of Reichenau (also called Hermannus Contractus, Hermannus Augiensis, Herman the Cripple, Herman the Lame) (July 18, 1013 - September 24, 1054) was an 11th-century scholar, composer, music theorist, mathematician, and astronomer. Hermannus was a son of the duke of Altshausen, Germany.


Germany is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered to the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea; to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic; to the south by Austria and Switzerland; and to the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The territory of Germany covers 357,021 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate.

A region named Germania inhabited by several Germanic peoples has been known and documented before 100 AD. Since the 900's, German territories have formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire that lasted until 1806.


Herman was crippled by a paralytic disease from early childhood. He spent most of his life in the abbey of Reichenau, an island on Lake Constance. Hermannus contributed to all four arts of the quadrivium. He was renowned as a musical composer (among his surviving works are officia for St. Afra and St. Wolfgang). He also wrote a treatise on the science of music, several works on geometry and arithmetics and astronomical treatises (including instructions for the construction of an astrolabe, at the time a very novel device in Christian Europe). As a historian, he wrote a detailed chronicle from the birth of Christ to his own present day, for the first time compiling the events of the 1st millennium AD scattered in various chronicles in a single work, ordering them after the reckoning of the Christian era. His disciple Berthold of Reichenau was its continuator.

He was beatified (cultus confirmed) in 1863.


Marian antiphons are a group of sacred devotional songs in the Gregorian chant repertory of the Roman Catholic Church sung in honor of the Virgin Mary. Marian antiphons are not true antiphons, in that they are not associated and chanted with a Psalm verse.

Although there are a number of Marian antiphons, some of great antiquity, the term is often used to refer to four elaborate chants in particular:

Alma Redemptoris Mater
Ave Regina caelorum
Regina caeli
Salve Regina

These four chants have been sung according to different schedules in different monastic traditions over the years, but in current usage the liturgical year is divided into four periods, with each period associated with one of the four Marian antiphons, which is sung at the end of Compline or Vespers during that period. For example, Alma Redemptoris Mater is sung at from the first Sunday in Advent until Candlemas.

The four Marian antiphons, sometimes with alterations, were often set to polyphonic arrangements by Renaissance composers.


Alma Redemptoris Mater or, in English, "Loving Mother of our Savior," is one of four liturgical Marian antiphons (the other three being: Ave Regina caelorum, Salve Regina, and Regina coeli) sung at the end of the office of Compline. Hermannus Contractus (Herman the Cripple) (1013 - 1054) is said to have authored the anthem based on the writings of Ss. Fulgentius, Epiphanius, and Irenaeus of Lyon. It is mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Formerly it was recited at compline only from the first Sunday in Advent until the Feast of the Purification (February 2).

Alma Redemptoris Mater, quae pervia caeli
Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
Surgere qui curat, populo: tu quae genuisti,
Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem
Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.
Optional: from the first Sunday of Advent till christmas Eve
V. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae
R. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.
Gratiam tuam quæsumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui Incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem ejus et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur.
Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Optional: from Christmas Eve to the Presentation
V. Post Partum Virgo inviolata permansisti.
R. Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis.
Deus, qui salutis aeternae beatae Mariae virginitate foecunda humano generi praemia praestitisti: tribue, quaesumus, ut ipsam pro nobis intercedere sentiamus, per quam meruimus, Auctorem vitae suscipere Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Amen.

Loving Mother of our Savior, hear thou thy people's cry
Star of the deep and Portal of the sky!
Mother of Him who thee made from nothing made.
Sinking we strive and call to thee for aid:
Oh, by what joy which Gabriel brought to thee,
Thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.
Optional: from the first Sunday of Advent till Christmas eve
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
R. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.
Let us pray.
Pour forth we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may, by His passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his Resurrection; through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Optional: from Christmas Eve to the Presentation
V. After childbirth, O Virgin, thou didst remain inviolate.
R. O Mother of God, plead for us.
Let us pray.
O God, Who by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, hast given to mankind the rewards of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech You, that we may experience her intercession for us, by whom we deserved to receive the Author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.


[Anonymous Italian (b. c. 1170) - Madonna and Child (c. 1200, in Byzantine style)]

The Virgin Mary is a traditional title used by most Christians and most specifically used by liturgical Christians such as Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics, and some others to describe Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

Since the first century, devotion to the Virgin Mary has been a major element of the spiritual life of a number of Christians. From the Council of Ephesus in 431 to Vatican II and Pope John Paul II's Redemptoris Mater encyclical, the Virgin Mary has become to be seen, not only as the Mother of God but also as the Mother of the Church, a Mediatrix who intercedes to Jesus Christ and even a proposed Co-Redemptrix.

The key role of the Virgin Mary in the beliefs of many Christians, her veneration, and the growth of Mariology have not only come about by the Marian writings of the saints or official statements but have often been driven from the ground up, from the masses of believers, and at times via reported Marian apparitions, miracles and healings.

There is a long-standing and widespread Christian tradition of giving special honour and devotion to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.

[Early image of the Virgin and Child from the Catacombs of Rome, 4th century]

The Council of Ephesus in 431 formally sanctioned devotion to the Virgin as Theotokos, Mother of God, (more accurately translated as God bearer) allowing the creation of icons bearing the images of the Virgin and Child. Devotion to Mary was, however, already widespread by this point. The early Church Fathers saw Mary as the "new Eve" who said "yes" to God as Eve had said no. The non-canonical Gospel of James, written around 150, is an example of early devotion to Mary, advocating her perpetual virginity. Mary, as the first Christian Saint and Mother of Jesus, was deemed to be a compassionate mediator between suffering mankind and her son, Jesus, who was seen as King and Judge. Biblical support for this position was found in the story of the Marriage at Cana whereat Mary entreated Jesus to turn water into wine (Gospel of John, Chapter 2). Elizabeth's praise of Mary "blessed art thou among women" and "who am I that the mother of my Lord would visit me?" in Luke 2 are also cited, among other passages of Scripture.

Early representations show Mary as the "Throne of Heaven" with Mary and the Child Jesus both crowned as Royalty. She was further identified with the Bride in the Old Testament Song of Solomon, by such noted theologians as St. Bernard of Clairvaux. She became the prototype for the Church itself. During the Middle Ages, and especially in France, the great Cathedrals were thus named for Mary. The Marian Rosary was popularized by the followers of St. Dominic.

Devotion to the Virgin Mary as the "new Eve" lent much to the status of women during the Middle Ages. Women who had been looked down upon as daughters of Eve (first woman), came to be looked upon as objects of veneration and inspiration. The veneration of Mary both as woman and prototype of the Church was greatly responsible for transforming the Germanic Warrior code into the Code of Chivalry. This reinterpretation of women flowered in the Courtly Love poetry of Medieval and Renaissance France. Mary, as the original "vessel of Christ" may have also influenced the legends of the Holy Grail.

The earliest known Marian prayer is the Sub tuum praesidium, or Beneath Thy Protection, dating from late 2nd century. A papyrus dated to c. 250 containing the prayer in Greek was discovered in Egypt in 1917, and is the earliest known reference to the title Theotokos, confirmed by the Council of Ephesus in 431:

Beneath your compassion, We take refuge, O Mother of God: do not despise our petitions in time of trouble: but rescue us from dangers, only pure, only blessed one.

In the 1000's indications of a regular devotion can be noted in the pious meditations on the Ave Maria and the Salve Regina, usually attributed either to St. Anselm of Lucca (d. 1080) or St. Bernard.

[8070 Song of the Ass / 8013 Herman - Alma]