There’s no shortage of modern faith-driven music in the Catholic songbook, but in the spirit of the coming Eucharistic Revival, sometimes it’s best to go back to the basics. Today, we are listening to a millennium-old hymn to the Blessed Mother, sung by the friars of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC.
This rendition of “Salve Regina” is attributed to Blessed Herman of Reichenau, an 11th-century Benedictine monk who suffered a great many physical ailments in his lifetime. Blessed Herman was born with a cleft palate, cerebral palsy and spina bifida, but he racked up quite the collection of achievements despite his conditions.
Blessed Herman of Reichenau was a scholar to the umpteenth degree, having been recognized for excellence in the fields of astronomy, theology, math, history and poetry. Furthermore, he was fluent in Arabic, Greek, and Latin, as well as his native Germanic language. As he aged, however, his health only grew worse, eventually leading to the loss of his eyesight.
It was after he went blind that he began to write hymns in earnest, and that’s when “Salve Regina” emerged. As Aleteia’s own Philip Koslowski explains:
“When we read or sing both of these hymns [also the Alma Redemptoris Mater] after learning about Bl. Herman, they are even more remarkable. The hymns are jubilant songs full of love and devotion, coming from the heart of a man who suffered greatly during his life. It reminds us of the power of faith and how no matter what sufferings we may have to endure, we can still praise God and thank him for the wondrous things he has done for us.”
The Dominican friars give the song a lovely treatment, aided by the incredible sound space of the chapel at their house of studies. The excellent audio is made all the more reverent by the incredible visuals of the house and the friars at worship.
Almost as fun as the recording is picking out all the recognizable faces in the video. We spotted no less than five of the Hillbilly Thomists dispersed throughout the footage. There’s also a clear shot of Bishop Robert Barron genuflecting before the altar. We aren’t sure if Bishop Barron’s voice is on the recording, as it may not have been taken live, but it looks like he was singing along as he walked.
Looking for more exceptional Catholic music? Check out the links below.