Regina Caeli: Queen of Heaven: From the Easter Vigil to Pentecost
Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For He whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray. O God, who through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, didst vouchsafe to give joy to the world; grant, we beseech Thee, that through His Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Regina Caeli is the most recent of the four evening antiphons. In written form the Regina Caeli can be traced to the twelfth century. Most sources indicate that it was probably an adapted Christmas antiphon. The authorship is unknown. “Legend says that St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) heard the first three lines chanted by angels on a certain Easter morning in Rome while he walked barefoot in a great religious procession and that the saint thereupon added the fourth line: ‘Ora pro nobis Deum. alleluia’.”Marienlexikon attributes this source to the Golden Legend around the year 1265.
In 1742, Benedict XIV decreed that the Regina Caeli was to be prayed in the Easter season during the ringing of the Angelus bell. “In the prescribed regulation, to pray the Regina Caeli always standing is a continuation of the oldest form of Easter prayer.” [Fischer, 1097-8]
The Regina Caeli Today
The antiphon is sung in several variations today. The plainchant prayer form is used weekdays during the Easter season. The chant gives a sense of joy and delight. After the long, heavy season of Lent, the joy of Resurrection must resound. There are few words. With Mary, we rejoice. The musical settings used for Sunday and the Easter Liturgy itself are majestic and powerful. There is no doubt about the power of life and its fulfillment in Christ’s Resurrection. Mary is asked to pray for us that we become part of it one day.
The Regina Caeli, especially as we sing the various forms in our faith community during the season, is a simple plea as we turn to Our Lady as a queen who can pray for us. She is a queen of joy and rejoicing because He is risen– all of these aspects contribute to the whole hope of our faith. Lent is over; death is over; fasting and the somber season is over. It is time to sing with Mary, to grow quiet in her prayer, and to know that there is sure hope that our destiny may share this Resurrection.