Marian songs and devotions at Mass

Marian songs and devotions at Mass

Before you schedule the “Ave Maria” or plan to pray the Hail Mary during Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption (or any Marian feast day), read the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments’ document called “Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines.” Here are three points that might guide your choices for today’s Masses.

First, the Eucharist is preeminent:

The Sacred Liturgy, in virtue of its very nature, is by far superior to pious exercises….Liturgy and pious exercises must co-exist in accordance with the hierarchy of values and the nature specific to both of these cultic expressions. (3)

Second, Marian rituals and songs, though focused on Mary, still must always find their source in and point us toward Christ:

Such pious exercises…should be derivative from the “one worship which is rightly called Christian, because it efficaciously originates in Christ, finds full expression in Christ, and through him, in the Holy Spirit leads to the Father” (Marialis cultus 24). (186)

Finally, Marian songs or rituals, if they will be used in the Mass, should:

give expression to the Trinitarian note which characterizes worship of the God revealed in the New Testament, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…


have constant recourse to Sacred Scripture, as understood in Sacred Tradition; not overlook the demands of the ecumenical movement in the Church’s profession of faith; consider the anthropological aspects of cultic expressions so as to reflect a true concept of man and a valid response to his needs; highlight the eschatological tension which is essential to the Gospel message; make clear missionary responsibility and the duty of bearing witness, which are incumbent on the Lord’s disciples. (186)

Given all of that, it is best to keep specifically Mary-focused devotions, such as the rosary or the Hail Mary, or songs that address Mary directly, like the “Ave Maria,” “Immaculate Mary,” or “Hail, Holy Queen” for other gatherings outside of Mass. Or use them before or after the Mass. During the Mass itself (including any song after Communion), focus instead on songs that give praise to God and direct us to Christ through Mary. Any setting of the Magnifcat (the Canticle of Mary from Luke’s Gospel) would be a perfect example of a song that praises Father and points us toward the mission of Christ through the life of Mary.

An abbreviated version of this post was first published on the planner page for the Solemnity of the Assumption in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal,” Vol 28, No 2.

Image credit: personal photo.

2 Responses

  1. Frank Klose
    | Reply

    I do agree with you – though I do note that GIA’s versions of “Immaculate Mary” and “Hail Holy Queen” are reapportioned to be appropriate for mass. We have Gather and then also have OCP’s Today’s Missal. The versions in Gather meet those guidelines, whereas those in Today’s Missal are of the Popular Piety variety.

    • Diana Macalintal
      | Reply

      Thanks for pointing that out about GIA’s versions! There are actually a lot of very appropriate “Marian” songs in our hymnals that would also be appropriate for Mass. We just to be more discerning. Glad you shared your experience with the different hymnals!

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