Sunday Musical Offering: The Alma Redemptoris Mater, in Three Versions

Our Lady of Good Counsel (

There are various Gregorian chants sung in honour of Our Lady at the close of Compline, for each liturgical season, and the one for Advent and Christmas is the Alma Redemptoris Mater – a beautiful hymn to Our Lady as the ‘nourishing Mother’ of us all.

Here it is in the original Latin:

Alma Redemptóris Mater, quæ pérvia cæli
Porta manes, et stella maris, succúrre cadénti,
Súrgere qui curat pópulo: tu quæ genuísti,
Natúra miránte, tuum sanctum Genitórem
Virgo prius ac postérius, Gabriélis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, peccatórum miserére

And in English translation:

Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
who remains the accessible Gateway of Heaven,
and Star of the Sea,
Give aid to a falling people
that strives to rise;
O Thou who begot thy holy Creator,
while all nature marvelled,
Virgin before and after
receiving that “Ave” from the mouth of Gabriel,
have mercy on sinners.

Here is the Gregorian chant version:

And set to polyphony by Palestrina, first published in 1587:

And, finally for now, one by Palestrina’s contemporary, and fellow practitioner of the ars perfecta, Victoria, first published in 1687: