Help for the Fallen

Loving Mother of the Redeemer,

who remain the open Gate of Heaven,

and Star of the Sea:

Give aid to a falling people

that strives to rise!

O Thou, who begot thy holy Begetter

while all nature marveled,

virgin before and after,

receiving that “Ave” from the mouth of Gabriel:

Have mercy on sinners!

Alma Redemtoris Mater (music)

As seasons ebb and flow, Holy Mother Church honors her Redeemer by honoring his Immaculate Mother.

From Advent to the feast of the Purification of Mary (February 2nd: also the Presentation of Christ, or Candlemas) it is her custom to chant this particular medieval hymn.

The above setting is by Johann Joseph Fux (1660–1741), from the album Ave Regina by Accentus Austria (streaming, CD). The disc includes a number of Marian hymns (including one other version of Alma) and several sonatas, fascinating in their occasionally exotic fluctuations.

As the Latin indicates (genuísti tuum Genitórem), nature itself wondered that Mary was able to beget her Begetter. This miraculous feat was given exclusively to her because she alone was perfectly willing to receive, with ears open to the depths of her soul, the Good News of God’s messenger.

In heaven, Mary’s ears remain open to the prayers of her sinful children. No matter how far we have fallen, and how unlikely our rising may sometimes seem, she stands ready to help us obtain the grace of God by which all things are possible.

We need only ask, and strive!

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