Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Ave Maris Stella. Hail, Star Of The Sea. The Hymn At First Vespers For The Assumption Of The Blessed Virgin Mary.

Hail, Star of the Sea.

Ave Maris Stella.
Available on YouTube at

The following Text is from Wikipedia -the free encyclopaedia.

Ave Maris Stella ("Hail Star of the Sea") is a Plainsong Vespers Hymn to Mary. It was especially popular in the Middle Ages and has been used by many composers as the basis of other compositions.

The creation of the original Hymn has been attributed to several people, including Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (12th-Century), Saint Venantius Fortunatus (6th-Century) and Hermannus Contractus (11th-Century). The Text is found in 9th-Century Manuscripts kept in Vienna, Austria, and in the Abbey of Saint Gall, Switzerland.

The melody is found in the Irish Plainsong "Gabhaim Molta Bríde", a piece in praise of Saint Bridget. The popular modern Hymn, Hail Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star, is loosely based on this Plainsong original.

It finds particular prominence in the "Way of Consecration to The Blessed Virgin Mary" by Saint Louis de Montfort.

Madonna and Child
(Galleria Borghese, Rome).
Date: Circa 1742.
Author: Pompeo Batoni (1708–1787).
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Plainchant Hymn has been developed by many composers, from pre-Baroque to the present day. The Roman Rite employs four different Plainchant tunes for the Ave Maris Stella; the first three are designated for Solemnities, Feasts, and Memorials of The Blessed Virgin Mary; a fourth is given in The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an alternative to the Memorial Tone. These Plainchant Tones have been used as the cantus firmus for some Polyphonic Settings of the Mass, including those by Josquin and Victoria.

Renaissance Settings include those by Felice Anerio, Palestrina, Dufay and Byrd. Baroque Settings include Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610. Romantic Settings include those by Dvorak, Grieg, and Liszt. Modern composers who have either set the Text, or used the Hymn as an inspiration, include Grace Williams, Peter Maxwell Davies, Otto Olsson and Trond Kverno.


  1. I find it interesting that the Brompton Oratory did not adapt Pius XII's new Assumption hymn, always keeping Moteverdi's setting of Ave Maris Stella, one of the most beautiful and insightful hymns in the Roman liturgy.

  2. Thank you, The Rad Trad, for a most interesting observation.

    I agree. It's worth musing over.

    I was, in fact, listening to Monteverdi's setting of Ave Maris Stella, today.


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