From Father Beddingfield: Regina coeli
Sometimes after celebrating the midday Mass, I stop in a nearby deli and I see the same man. He usually asks me something like, “So, Father, when are you going to get those bells fixed at the church? They still don’t ring correctly on the hour.” He laughs and I explain one more time that we ring the tower bell during the Angelus and during the Eucharistic Prayer, but he likes to continue the joke, wondering why the bell never rings twelve times at noon.
Last week after Mass I stopped in the deli and there was my friend. “Hey Father, something is off with those bells. They’re not right.” “What do you mean,” I asked him. “Well, at noon there used to be three three’s and a nine. Now it’s more like five singles and a nine.” “Ahh,” I said. “It’s Easter-time. See, during Easter we say a different prayer. Wait a minute and I’ll bring you a copy of it.” When I returned, he took the card and thanked me, and asked what the prayer is called. “Regina coeli,” I said. “You should join us some time and see what you’re missing.” He laughed and waved me good-bye.
There are a number of thoughts about the origin of this Eastertide anthem of the Blessed Virgin Mary. One legend suggests that Saint Gregory the Great heard the first three verses of the prayer being recited by angels one Easter morning in Rome. In response, Gregory added the fourth verse,
“Pray for us to the Father.” Another tradition credits Gregory V, since many believe the prayer to have originated sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries. Whatever its origin, by the 13th century, Regina coeli, with its alleluias, was widely used as an Eastertide antiphon in monasteries and churches.
Regina coeli reaches a kind of highpoint this Sunday, the first Sunday in May. With Christians especially in those areas of the world where May marks the beginning of springtime, we begin the month of May with the Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As May is the month in which so much of the natural world flowers and blossoms, the Church adopted May as an appropriate time to reflect upon the spirituality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a spirituality that flowered and blossomed as she continued to grow in faith and love and holiness. As Gerard Manly Hopkins put it,
May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why;
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season,
Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?
Ask of her, that mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing —
Like nature itself, we grow. Like Our Lady, we grow in faith and love, and the May Crowning allows us to give thanks for her model of holiness. This part of our liturgy is simple and dignified. A crown of flowers is placed on the head of the image of Our Lady early in the day. At the end of the Solemn Mass, during the singing of Hail, holy Queen enthroned above the clergy process to the Shrine of Our Lady. Holy water and incense are offered and the congregation sings Regina coeli. After the final hymn, Sing we of the blessed Mother, the Mass ends with the Easter dismissal.
The bells keep ringing at Saint Mary’s. The alleluias are still said and sung, whispered and shouted. Regina coeli is one way that our alleluia echoes throughout the Easter season. We rejoice with the Blessed Virgin Mary, with Saint John and all the apostles and evangelists, with angels, archangels, saints, martyrs and all Christian souls—the Lord is risen, indeed, alleluia! John Beddingfield
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Martha, Tom, Doreen, Steve, Gilbert, Robert, Jason, Harold, Matthew, Virginia, Bart, Margaret, Marion, Hugh, Rick, Carlson, priest and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Jonathan, Jeffrey, Ned, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David, Colin, Christina, David, Nestor, Freddie, Matthew and Bennett; and for the repose of the soul of Russell.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 3: 1947 Rachel Howland; May 4: 1995 Alexandrina Patricia Hunte; May 5: 1965 Elizabeth Perrigo; May 6: 1991 Homer Lee Hennig.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 13:15-116,26-39 Psalm 100, Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, May 1 by Father Beddingfield . . . On Sunday, May 2, the Rector will be celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM. At the Solemn Mass we welcome the Reverend John Kilgore, our good friend, as celebrant and preacher. Father Kilgore, who assisted as deacon at Saint Mary’s last fall, continues to work as a cardiologist and serves as a priest on staff at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. The Rector will be the preacher for Solemn Evensong at 5:00 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The thanks of the entire parish should be extended to Robert McCormick, Dale Bonenberger, Larry Trupiano and our sextons for their work in hosting the Messiaen organ recital marathon last Saturday. Over a thousand people attended the extraordinary recitals played by Paul Jacobs, which will be remembered by many for years to come. Saint Marians should be extremely proud . . . Kenneth Rochester graduates from Northwestern University this Saturday with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration . . . Doreen Swan continues to improve as she recovers from a fall . . . The Reverend Andrew Sloane, former curate of this parish and presently rector of Saint Paul’s Church, K Street, Washington, D.C., will celebrate his twenty-fifth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood on Tuesday, June 8, at Saint Paul’s. Please call Saint Paul’s parish office for full details, 202-337-2020 . . . Especially as vacation season approaches, anyone interested in joining the rota of servers for weekday Masses or Sundays should speak with the Rector or with Father Beddingfield . . . Attendance last Sunday 220.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Sung Mass, played by associate organist Robert McDermitt, the prelude is Andante from Sonata No. 7 by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901) and the postlude is from Sonata No. 2 in C minor, Op. 65 by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) . . . At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is chorale preludes BWV 628 and BWV 629 by J. S. Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is Toccata from Symphonie V, Op. 42 by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Surge propera’ by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). A beautiful 5-voice setting based upon a Palestrina motet, it is especially appropriate for commemoration of Our Lady – Surge propera or “Rise up, my love” has always had strong Marian associations. The motet is Victoria’s Regina coeli for double choir . . . The organ recital is played by Terry Heisey of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. We thank Mark Peterson for playing Evensong in Robert McCormick’s absence.
CANON NDIMBO TO PREACH AT EVENSONG ON MAY 9 . . . The Reverend Dr. Samuel Ndimbo, canon of Holy Cross Cathedral in the Diocese of Ruvuma, Tanzania, will be the preacher at Solemn Evensong & Benediction on Sunday, May 9. After the service there will be a reception with time for conversation and discussion. Canon Ndimbo has served the Anglican Church in Tanzania as physician and priest. Recently he has assisted the Global Anglicanism Project of the Episcopal Church Foundation in facilitating research at Saint Anne’s Hospital in Liuli. The Anglican Church in Tanzania has its roots in the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) movement originally formed by students at Cambridge and Oxford in the 1800’s, whose theology of mission was deeply Anglo-catholic.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth Sunday of Easter
Monday Easter Weekday
Tuesday Monnica, mother of Augustine of Hippo
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Easter Weekday No abstinence
Saturday Dame Julian of Norwich, anchoress
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate,
The Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.