Notre Dame de Rouen. The façade of the Gothic Church in France. Photographer: Hippo1947. Licence: SHUTTERSTOCK.

13 Jan 2018

"Ultima In Mortis Hora". A Benedictine Chant To The Blessed Virgin Mary.

The De La Salle Hymnal: for Catholic Schools and Choirs (1913), p.92.
Illustration: HYMNARY.ORG

Yo-Yo Ma and the Monks of Saint Vincent
"Ultima in mortis hora".
Available on YouTube at

The following Text is from FR. Z's BLOG

The chant in question is called “The Ultima”, from the more complete “Ultima in hora mortis”.

This is something from the Benedictine Tradition. It is a Chant, to The Blessed Virgin, invoking her as a good Mother and Queen of Heaven, to help Souls to a good death and to take care of them, afterwards.

You can find it online, for example, HERE

The American Cassinese Benedictines have a version, which includes three languages. HERE

The Text seems to be cobbled up from lines taken from a Sequence, written by a Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Germany, at the time of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s Proclamation of The Dogma of The Immaculate Conception. Hence, it is not an ancient Text, but it reflects the piety and Faith of millennia of Christian experience of Mary and of death.

Usually, the first part is sung, and it has been set for four voices, etc.

Ultima in mortis hora,
Filium pro nobis ora,
Bonam mortem impetra,
Virgo, Mater Domina.

In the last hour/moment of death,
Pray to Your Son for us,
obtain (for us) a good death,
O Virgin, Mother Lady.

We should contemplate death often and Pray for a good death.

Last night, I blessed Epiphany Water, which Rite includes The Litany of Saints, during which we Pray to be saved from a sudden and unprovided death, that is, death with the the Sacraments, the chance to make a good Confession.

Baring extraordinary Graces, I think people die as they have lived. Habits get baked into over the years. We have to develop habits of dying while we are still living, so that when we die, we die as well as possible. Death is a great Mystery, but we can ready ourselves, much as Soldiers – and we belong to The Church Militant – ready for the struggle through constant and long drills.

AND . . .

As Fr. Z often extols us to so do . . .


"You know not the day, nor the hour . . ."

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