(Kindly Mother of the Redeemer).
The opening words of one of the four Antiphons sung at Compline and Lauds, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, at various seasons of the year. This particular Antiphon is assigned to that part of the year occurring between the first Vespers of the first Sunday in Advent and Compline of the 2nd of February (on which day it ceases, even if the Feast of the Purification should be transferred from that day). It consists of six hexameter verses in strict prosodial form, followed by versicle, response, and prayer, which vary for the season: until Christmas Eve (first Vespers of the Nativity), V. Angelus Domini etc., R. Et concepit etc., with the prayer Gratiam tuam etc.; thenceforward, V. Post partum etc., R. Dei Genitrix , etc., and the prayer Deus qui salutes æterna etc. The hexameter verses are credited to Hermannus Contractus, or Hermann "the Cripple" (d. 1054), an interesting biographical notice of whom may be found in Duffield, "Latin Hymn Writers", 149-168. It has been translated into English by Father Caswall (Mother of Christ, hear thou thy people's cry); by Cardinal Newman , in "Tracts for the Times", No. 75 (Kindly Mother of the Redeemer), and J. Wallace (Sweet Mother of Our Saviour blest). Caswall's translation is found in the official "Manual of Prayers" (Baltimore), 76. In the Marquess of Bute's "Breviary; Winter Part", 176 (Maiden! Mother of Him Who redeemed us, thou that abides"), the unrhymed hexameter version is very literal.
The Antiphon must have been very popular in England both before and after its treatment by Chaucer in his "Prioresses Tale", which is based wholly on a legend connected with its recitation by the "Litel Clergeon":This litel childe his litel book lerninge,
Professor Skeat, in his "Oxford Chaucer", thought that the Alma Redemptoris here was the sequence (cf. Mone, Lateinische Hymnen, II, 200):Alma Redemptoris mater
but subsequently (cf. Modern Philology, April, 1906, "Chaucer's 'Litel Clergeon'", for an explanation of the error and a good treatment of many questions related to the Antiphon) admitted that the Breviary Antiphon was referred to by Chaucer.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online