Monday, August 16, 2021

Hail "Hail, Holy Queen"

Yesterday being the Feast of the Assumption, we got to end Mass with the great hymn "Hail, Holy Queen."

That was a thrill! This is one of the great Catholic melodies, up there with "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name" and "Adeste Fideles." I should come up with a list and one of these days I will.

Meanwhile let us shine the spotlight on "Hail Holy Queen."

The text is attributed to Hermannus Contractus, better known as Blessed Hermann von Reichenau. He is the gentleman in the picture up above. And if you think his name was something, his father was Count Wolverad II von Altshausen.

About the melody, it is always referred to as German, but as I was just writing on my other Web log, you would almost think it was Irish. This hymn is a challenge. It starts low and then suddenly the chorus is about an octave higher. You have to be all in if you are going to get through it.

"Hail Holy Queen" had its moment of fame in pop culture for its treatment in "Sister Act." Wow, that is suddenly a long time ago! 


I personally like how the hymn was sounding before they ragged it, LOL. But I get a little nostalgic when they give the gospel treatment to these Latin phrases. Unless you go to a Latin Mass, you would never get the jokes now.

It is hard to find good renditions online of traditional Catholic hymns. A lot of the time you see something promising and you click on it, but then you hear that electric piano, and you go, Oh, no. Well, I am going to see what I can find.

That is a group called the Cathedral Singers. I personally prefer the hymn more rousing but that is me. Sometimes you have a piece of music that is just a sacred cow to you, you know? Pardon the Hindu reference, in this context. What I mean is when you have one of these sacred cows, it is hard to find a recording that is just right.

That is Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine Choir. I like the intro.

One thing I am seeing online is that it has apparently become a thing for school choir directors to have their choirs perform beautiful "Hail Holy Queen" in the "Sister Act" version. That is kind of a pain! Nothing against gospel music. I love gospel music. I have a lot of records and I was personal friends with Aretha Franklin, I will have you know. She was from Buffalo. The truth is thought that musical traditions are different. And people go out of their way to make this magnificent hymn sound stodgy and boring, in need of this intervention. 

They do not get it!

Singing this hymn at church is always a joy. I wish we had recorded our version from yesterday. This one gal in the choir, Philomena, she sang a descant at the end. It was so beautiful that I almost started to cry. But I could not because there were only a couple of us holding down the normal soprano line and the hymn was going full blast and it was all hands on deck.

Triumph, all ye cherubim!
Sing with us, ye Seraphim!
Heaven and earth resound the hymn!
Salve, salve, salve Regina!

What lyrics.

What a melody!

The greatest!!