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Latin Literature

Paschal Triduum: Regina Coeli

William Blake's Holy Thursday (1794).

William Blake’s Holy Thursday (1794). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regina coeli laetare, Alleluia,
Quia quem meruisti portare.
Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum.

So ends the days of the Easter Triduum according to the Liturgy of the Hours ( Liturgia Horarum) or Divine Office (Officium Divinum) or canonical hours often referred to as the Breviary for the Catholic Church..

The Liturgy of the Hours is the day divided up so as to have time to dedicate to prayer, psalms, and contemplation:

  • The Officium lectionis, or Office of Readings, (formerly Matins) — major hour
  • Lauds or Morning prayer — major hour
  • Daytime prayer, which can be one or all of:
    • Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer
    • Sext or Midday Prayer
    • None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer
  • Vespers or Evening Prayer — major hour
  • Compline or Night Prayer

Of course, as is the way of all these things, the modern Liturgia Horarum is shorter than the traditional Roman Breviary which remained in place from the 6th century until the mid-1960s, after the Second Vatican Council.

It is only during the Easter Triduum, specifically starting on Holy Saturday and extending to the Saturday after Pentacost,  that the Regina Coeli is added, usually after Compline.  It is a prayer that can be traced to the twelfth century and whose authorship is unknown.  It has been included in evening prayers during Eastertide since the 13th century.  However, there is a manuscript of the old Roman chant tradition from 1200 which includes it.  An excellent rendition can be found here.

Regina coeli in gregorian notation

Regina coeli in gregorian notation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, it is that time of year, the Easter Triduum-Maundy Thursday,  Good Friday,  Holy Saturday, and  Easter Sunday.  I think I say this in all my overtly religious, ostensibly about Latin posts–this and other times of the year afford a real opportunity for stopping and just being quiet, still. All religions offer this chance, and regardless of faith or no, these times are excellent excuses for contemplation.  I don’t know about you, but I really need an excuse to contemplate, meditate, pray whatever you want to call it, because it feels like such an indulgence at other times.

And that’s probably the significance of the season, that this contemplation should not be considered an indulgence.  It should be part of each day.




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