We beseech Thee, 0 Lord, that the glorious intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary may protect us and bring us to life eternal. Through our Lord, &c.
This short, simple, direct prayer includes everything and is a model for our own private prayers. It is only the second part of the Hail, Mary, that she may pray for us here and at the hour of our death. What can be simpler, more childlike and more true ?
This hour, unlike the others, ends up with a solemn invocation of the blessing of the Holy Trinity upon us now going to rest.
May the Almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless and guard us. Amen.
The Little Chapter and Versicle are the same as at None during this season. And the Antiphon at the Nunc Dimittis as at Lauds, followed by the ordinary Advent Collect.
The Little Chapter and Versicle are as above ; the Antiphon at the Nunc Dimittis is the same as at the Magnificat during this season, together with the Christmas Collect.
The Antiphon at the Nunc Dimittis is Regina Caeli (see page 429).
The following Antiphons of our Lady are said according to the Rubrics for the various seasons of the year. These concluding hymns seem to have been introduced into the Office by the Franciscans, who began to add them to the daily recital. St. Bonaventure, about 1274, is credited with being the first to add them to the Liturgical Prayer. Among the English Benedictines the use seems to have been general at an early date ; for by the acts of the Chapter of the English Congregation, held at Northampton, 1444, a decree was renewed ordering their recitation every day at the end of Compline, " in order before sleep to implore her help by whom the serpent's head was crushed." They were made of obligation to the whole Church by St. Pius V. in his reform of the Roman Breviary.
From Vespers on the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent to the second Vespers of the Purification inclusively.
Mother of Christ, hear thou thy people's cry,
Star of the deep and portal of the sky,
Mother of Him Who thee from nothing made,
Sinking we strive and call to thee for aid :
O by that joy which Gabriel brought to thee,
Thou Virgin, first and last, let us thy mercy see.
The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts: that we who know the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son by the message of the Angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same, &c.
From the first Vespers of Christmas to the second Vespers of the Purification (February 2nd) the following is said: —
After bearing thou didst remain a maiden undefiled.
Mother of God intercede for us.
followed by the ordinary Christmas Collect: Deus qui salutis aeternce, &c.
This Antiphon, made up of words borrowed from St. Fulgentius, St. Epiphanius, and St. Irenaeus, is said to have been composed by a Benedictine monk of the monastery of Reichenau, Herman Contractus, who died 1054. There is but little need for exposition as most of the expressions have been explained. Cadenti populo, the people, sinking beneath the black waters of sin, stretch forth their arms to Mary for help. Natura mirante. Nature struck with wonder at the unheard-of thing, a Virgin conceiving and bearing a Son, the Creature given birth to her Maker.
From Compline on the Feast of the Purification till Easter.
Hail, O Queen of Heaven enthroned:
Hail, by angels Mistress crowned :
Root of Jesse; Gate of Morn !
Whence the world's true Light was born.
Glorious Virgin, joy to thee ;
Loveliest whom in Heaven they see,
Fairest thou where all are fair
Plead with Christ our sins to spare.
Make me worthy to praise thee 0 Blessed Virgin.
Give me strength against thine enemies.
The prayer is the common prayer at Vespers : Concede misericors.
The author of this Antiphon is not known. Like the former, the various praises are to be found in the works of the fathers of the Church, and the expressions used have been already explained, i.e., Radix, the stem of Jesse; Porta, the Gate closed to all except the Lord, and also the Gate through which the Day-spring from on high hath visited us. Super omnes speciosa. The grace of the stainless Conception was increased by that of the Divine Motherhood ; and then, once more, by that of the Sanctification in the Pentecostal Fires. Thus, as the grace which possessed the soul of our ever dear and blessed Lady far exceeded that of any created being, so was her spiritual beauty above that of all others. " Thou art all fair, O Mary, and the stain of original sin is not in thee," sings Holy Church on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
From Compline on Holy Saturday to None on the Saturday after Pentecost inclusively.
Joy to thee, O Queen of heaven,
He Whom thou wast meet to bear,
As He promised hath arisen.
Pour forth to Him thy prayer.
Rejoice and be glad, 0 Virgin Mary,
For the Lord is truly risen.
Let us pray.
O God, Who by the rising of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, hath vouchsafed to fill the world with joy : grant, we beseech Thee, that by His Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may attain the joys of eternal life. Through the same, &c.
In 596, during Easter-time, a pestilence was ravaging Rome, and St. Gregory the Great appointed a procession to be held to avert the scourge. On the day appointed he came with his clergy at dawn to the church of Ara Ccdi and, bearing in his hand the picture of our Lady attributed to St. Luke, he set out in procession to St. Peter's. But whilst passing what was then called the Castle or Mole of Hadrian, voices were heard high up in the air singing Regina Ccdi. The holy Pope, astonished and enraptured, replied with a loud voice : Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia. At that moment an Angel shining with a glorious light appeared and sheathed the sword of pestilence in its scabbard. The plague ceased from that day. The name was then changed from that of the Emperor to the Castle of San Angelo, and the heavenly words were inscribed on the roof of the church of Ara Caeli. In memory of the event the religious of that convent used to sing the Antiphon whenever any public procession passed their church. This simple anthem is one burst of joy which recalls the exultation which filled the heart of our ever dear and blessed Lady when, on that Resurrection Day, she first saw her Son in the glory of the new life. The Angels share in this joy and call upon us to join with them in the heavenly song of Alleluia.
From the first Vespers of Trinity Sunday to None on the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent.
Mother of Mercy, Hail, 0 gentle Queen ; our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope, all hail.
Children of Eve, to thee we cry from our sad banishment; to thee we send our sighs, weeping and mourning in this tearful vale.
Come, then, our Advocate; 0 turn to us those pitying eyes of thine. And our long exile past, show us at last Jesus, of thy pure womb the Fruit Divine.
O Virgin Mary!
Mother blest !
O sweetest, gentlest, holiset !
Pray for us, &c.
That we may, &c.
O Almighty and Eternal God, Who hath prepared by the cooperation of the Holy Ghost the body and soul of the Virgin-mother Mary as an abode worthy for Thy Son, grant that we who rejoice in her commemoration, may by her kind intercession be freed from present evils and from death eternal. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
This Antiphon is sung for six months in the year. It is generally attributed to the Benedictine monk, Herman Con-tractus. St. Bernard, it is said, added the last invocation during a visit to the Abbey of Affligheim. The Antiphon, which is expanded at length by St. Alphonsus, in " The Glories of Mary," is very sweet. Its fragrance lingers over our soul when, at the end of a long day, or at the end of any hour, we place our prayers in Mary's hands, that she, the pure and glorious one, may offer it with all the power of a Mother's love to her God, to that Son, the blessed Fruit of her womb. Thus do we put all under her care ; and we go to Jesus, the Door of Life Eternal, through her, the appointed Gate. All for Jesus through Mary, as one of her servants used to say. Our prayers coming through her hands will be doubly acceptable to her Son ; and we shall be the sooner heard for the reverence He has for His Mother.
At the end of the Antiphon is said :—
May the Divine assistance remain with us alway. Amen.
PATER. AVE. CREDO.
And this closes the Office. We began by calling on God to come to our aid. He has heard our prayer, now as always. So we conclude by asking that His help should be ever with us; for His grace is sufficient to free us from present evils and from death eternal, and to bring to us the joys of life eternal. This powerful assistance, which the Divine Goodness has given to men, is the love of Mary, the Mother of Divine grace, exalted by her Son to be the Refuge of sinners and the Help of the afflicted. She is the appointed channel of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to man ; for having given us our Saviour, she gives us all things in Him.
A PRAYER AFTER THE OFFICE.
In respect of which Pope Leo X. has granted to all persons who, after saying the Office, shall devoutly recite it on their knees, forgiveness of the shortcomings and faults of human weakness committed by them in saying the Office.
To the most holy and undivided Trinity :
To the Manhood of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified :
To the fruitful Virginity of the most blessed and most glorious Mary, always a virgin :
And to the whole body of all the Saints :
Be praise everlasting, honour and glory from all creatures :
And to us the forgiveness of all our sins. World without end. Amen.
Blessed be the womb of the Virgin Mary which bore the Son of the Eternal Father.
And blessed be the breasts that gave suck to Christ the Lord.
From - The Little Office of Our Lady; a treatise theoretical, practical, and exegetical - Taunton, Ethelred L. (Ethelred Luke), 1857-1907