Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Monastic Traditions: Salve Regina – Dominican Style

Salve_ReginaA highlight of ordinations and clerical funerals is the traditional chanting of the Salve Regina (simple tone) during the recessional. The monastics and mendicants have their own traditions though.

From the beginning, the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans has made its devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary a hallmark feature of Dominican spirituality. This deeply rooted devotion may be clearly seen in the chanting of Compline:

Every night, the brothers sing Compline before bed, concluding with the Dominican Salve Regina. The singing of the Salve Regina after Compline in honor of the Virgin Mary is one of the oldest traditions in the Order, dating back to the first generations of Dominican friars. In fact, the Church’s practice of singing the Salve (or some other Marian antiphon) after Compline grew out of this early Dominican practice.

The Dominican version of the Salve Regina uses the solemn tone and includes the addition of the O Lumen Ecclesia. This tradition began shortly after St. Dominic’s canonization using the following words penned by Constantine Orvieto who composed the antiphon in honor of the saint’s great virtue:

O light of the Church, teacher of Truth, rose of patience, ivory of chastity. You freely poured forth the waters of wisdom. Preacher of grace, unite us with the blessed.

During this antiphon, the music and the words unite giving witness to the powerful heritage of virtue the Dominicans have passed on to the Church in the form of  “veritatis” or truth. This is demonstrate by chanting this word along the longest sequence of notes in the chant. Not only is this a reminder of the Order’s motto, it is a clarion call to unite their (and our) minds and hearts to He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

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