Ave, Maris Stella (Hail, Star of the Sea)
DESCRIPTION: A French/Quebecois song of praise to the Virgin Mary (sung in Latin): "Ave, maris stella, Dei Mater alma, Atque semper virgo, Felix coeli porta (x2)" "Sumus illud Ave Gabrielis ora, Funda nes in pace, Mutans Hevae nomen."
EARLIEST DATE: 9th century, according to Julian (see NOTES), although not found in tradition until much later
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad Quebec foreignlanguage
FOUND IN: Canada(Que)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Fowke/Mills/Blume, pp. 19-20, "Ave, Maris Stella" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. Rickert, p. 8, "Ave Maris Stells" (a Middle English poem that alternates the Latin with English prayers)
ST FMB019 (Full)
LOCSheet, sm1871 11058, "Ave maris stella," Balmer & Weber (Saint Louis), 1871 (tune); also sm1873 01284; sm1877 05005; sm1873 01284; sm1882 13480
NOTES: According to Fowke/Mills, this song was adopted as the quasi-official hymn of the French colony in Canada at the suggestion of Louis XIII, and is still sung on special occasions by the Acadians. There are also many English translations
The original Latin text is longer and older than the commonly sung French version (which, as far as I know, is the only one with any traditional currency); it has been dated as early as the seventh century. John Julian, editor, A Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes), p. 99, reports "It has been wrongly ascribed to St. Bernard, as it is found in a St. Gall MS., No. 95, of the 9th century, and to Venantius Fortunatus (by M. A. Luchi, 1789), but on insufficient authority....
"It has been treated with so much respect as hardly to have been altered in the Roman Breviary, 1632, and was retained in the revised breviaries of French dioceses (Paris, Lyon, &c.), as one of the few exceptions of old hymns not supplanted....
In the Roman Breviary it is the Hymn for 1st and 2nd vespers in the Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary; also in the Office of the B. V. M. on Saturdays, and in the Little Office, Officium parvum Beatae Mariae Virginis, at 1st vespers, there being no 2nd vespers in these latter two cases.
"The hymn is found in three MSS. of the 11th cent. in the [British Library] (Harl[eian] f[olio]241; [Cotton] Vesp[asioan] D.xiii f[olio] 63; [Cotton] Jul[ius] A.vi f[olio] 56."
It is perhaps typical of the Marian cult that only one of the images of the poem (the visitation by Gabriel, Luke 1:26f.) is biblical. The others are either from the creed (the trinitarian imagery) or directly from Catholic legend (Mary's eternal virginity, etc.) or apparently specific to the poem (e.g. the reference to the "maris stella" -- the "of-the-sea star"). - RBW
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