ave maris stella (ssaa)

Catalog ID: S-470
Translation: hail, star of the sea
First Line: ave maris stella, dei mater alma
Composer: Mark Thomas
Author: St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
Voicing: ssaa
Accompaniment: piano, optional violin
Language: latin
Country: usa
Series: pearl shangkuan choral series
Other: new 2021
Sound: No audio clip available


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The authorship of this Vesper hymn has been ascribed to the Cistercian monk St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c. 1090 – 1153), but it is first recorded in a manuscript found in the Abby of St. Gall (Switzerland) dating from the 9th century. Cardinal Tommasi ascribes it, without sufficient evidence, to Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitier (d. 609). This ancient hymn is one of the few unrevised hymns in the Roman Breviary.

The name Mary, according to St. Bernard, “is said to mean ‘star of the sea’... Indeed most aptly is she compared to a star; for as a star sheds its beams without any decay on its part, so the Virgin brought forth her Son without any damage to her virginity” (Roman Breviary). She is heaven’s happy portal, through which Christ passes on his way to earth, and the one by whose intercession mortals may enter the gates of heaven. The Ave (Ave Maria; “Hail full of grace...” (Luke 1:28)) of Gabriel’s annunciation “reverses” the name “Eve” (Eva, wife of Adam). “May Mary change Eva, a curse, into Ave, a blessing” (Britt).

An SATB version of this piece is also available.  See  S-345.


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