Monday, June 2, 2014


Every night, just before retiring, Cistercian monks (Trappists) sing the Hour of the Divine Office called Compline. At Saint Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, MA, all the lights are extinguished except for a light outside the Salve Regina Window behind the main altar. The monks conclude the chanted prayers by singing the "Salve Regina", a hymn believed to have been composed by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in France in the 1100's.
Below is a translation of that hymn followed by a recording of it..

Compline is nearly over,
        All that’s left is to turn out the lights.
The whole Church, Nave and Chapels
        Are like the midnight of John of the Cross.

 Out of the darkness a kneeler bangs,
        A monk coughs,
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God
        Have mercy on me a sinner!

 A knock on a wooden stall
        All rise and face East
The setting sun turns our Lady orange
        And her Son gentle, forgiving  with scepter and globe

 From the darkness the organ breaks the silence
        And the monks sing, “Salve Regina,
Mater Misericordiae…” and as our voices crack,
        Our tears start to flow.

 “Vita, Dulcedo et Spes Nostra, Salve”
        Straight to Mary’s heart we sing,
“Our Life, our Sweetness and our Hope! Hail”
        O Lord I am not worthy of hope!

 Mary so pure,
        Her Son, Infinite Love and total vulnerability,
What am I doing in your presence?
        Don’t my sins offend you?

 “Ad Te, clamamus,” out of the depths,
        My own personal depths
A cowardly, hypocritical sinner we cry, really cry out, to you,
        “Exules Filiae Hevae.”
 “Ad te, suspiramus”, to you this my last breath
        Is a sigh of surrender,
Weeping and sobbing, “gementes et flentes”
        In this valley of tears “in hac lachrimarum valle.”

 Eia, ergo, advocata nostra
        So,  O sweet advocate
Turn those most merciful eyes towards us
        Illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte

 Et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui,
        And Jesus, the blessed fruit of your womb
 Show to us after this our exile.
        Nobis post hoc exilium ostende
O  clemens, o  pia, o  dulcis,  Virgo Maria.
        Oh clement, o loving, o sweet, Virgin Mary.
The sung Salve Regina

 [Salve Regina Window, Saint Joseph’s Abbey]
                                      Spencer, MA

Charlie Mc  1963-68