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Salve Regina: analysis

August 20, 2011

Today being the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, here is a thought about the Marian antiphon Salve Regina.  We will look at the form of the prayer:

a) Greeting #1: Sálve,

b) Titles 1&2: Regína, máter misericórdiae:

c) Descriptions of Mary 1,2&3: Víta, dulcédo, et spes nóstra,

a) Greeting #2: sálve.

d) Description of us #1: Ad te clamámus, éxsules fílii Hévae.

d) Description of us #2: Ad te suspirámus, geméntes et fléntes in hac lacrimárum válle.

e) Petition #1: Eia érgo, Advocáta nóstra, íllos túos misericórdes óculos ad nos convérte.

e) Petition #2: Et Jésum, benedíctum frúctum véntris túi, nóbis post hoc exsílium osténde.

c) Descriptions of Mary 1,2&3: O clémens: O pía: O dúlcis

b) Title #3: Vírgo

a) Greeting: María.

* * * * *

The form of the text can be summarized:

A BB CCC A DDEE CCC BA

From this we may see that the prayer has a beautiful interwoven sort of symmetry, and is entirely contained by the greeting “Salve Maria.”  This is, of course, a variant on the angelic salutation “Ave Maria.”  Throughout the prayer, ideas concerned with Mary occur three times, three being symbolic of the Trinity, and perfection.  Ideas relating to us, however, only occur twice; hence, imperfection.  Thus we may see that, in this instance, every little bit of the prayer matters.  Whatever may be argued about the history or development this text, in its present form, the removal of any part of it would mar its exquisite form.

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2 Comments
  1. Dad permalink

    Your analysis is very insightful. It took me several minutes to “check” your analysis: 3 A’s, B’s, C’s (twice), but only 2 D’s, 2 E’s. It is interesting that the traditional English translation preserves almost everything – except the second Salve. The translation would be “better” as follows;

    Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
    our life, our sweetness and our hope. Hail!

    To thee do we cry…

  2. Texican permalink

    Very nice, thank you!

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