Stabat Mater Dolorosa

The month of September is dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

Today, September 15th is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

I want to share a beautiful hymn that honors Our Lady of Sorrows.

Stabat Mater Dolorosa is considered one of the seven greatest Latin hymns of all time. It is based upon the prophecy of Simeon that a sword was to pierce the heart of Our Lord’s mother, Mary (Lk 2:35). The hymn title means “Stood the mother, full of grief.” In Latin, the hymn consists of twenty couplets which describe the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin at the Cross. The Stabat Mater’s popularity is reflected by its use in the popular devotion of the Stations of the Cross.

The message of the Stabat Mater focuses on the spiritual and emotional bond which unites Mary and all Christians to the death of her Son on the Cross. From this bond, each Christian can recognize the incredible compassion and holiness in Mary’s character. The Blessed Mother demonstrated her maternal compassion to all generations of Christians by her presence and participation with her Son Jesus in the Sacrifice of the Cross.

The Stabat Mater was introduced into the Liturgy gradually until 1727 when it was prescribed as a Sequence for Mass of the Seven Sorrows of Mary on September 15 and on Friday before Holy Week, as well as their corresponding offices. The text of the Stabat Mater has been put to different music by various composers in endless variations (Virgó Sacráta).

The hymn originated in the thirteenth century at the height of Franciscan devotion to Christ Crucified.

It has been attributed to Pope Innocent III and St. Bonaventure; however, most consider Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi to be the real author.

Over sixty English translations exist. Below is the text of one translation.

Click here to listen in Latin.

I encourage you to say or sing the Stabat Mater today and during this month to honor our Sorrowful Mother.

Let us pray for the grace to stand with Mary at the foot of the Cross and embrace our sufferings for love of Christ.

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Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem Old City, Israel. Photo from a friend

Stabat Mater Dolorosa

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blest,
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs.
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother: fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torment died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the Cross with thee to stay;
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share thy grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swooned
In His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defense,
Be Thy Cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee. Amen.


+ Click here to learn more about the Devotion of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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