Salve Regina or the Hail Holy Queen Prayer is an 11th-century hymn that is recited at the end of the Rosary and which is also used in night prayers. From a liturgical perspective, Salve Regina is one of the most well-known of the four prescribed Marian Anthems that are recited after Compline and/or after the Lauds and Hours.
The current form of Salve Regina was realized in the 12th Century at the Abbey of Cluny where it was used as a processional hymn on Marian feasts.
From 1218, the Salve Regina was chanted almost daily by the Cistercians. It became a popular evening song at medieval universities and also started being used as part of the ritual to bless a new ship.
The Hail Holy Queen prayer was added to the series of prayers said at the end of Low Mass by Pope Leo XIII. The prayer was traditionally sung at the end of a priest’s funeral Mass by the decedent’s fellow priests in attendance. It is also recited at the end of the Rosary as a prayer.
Saint Alphonus Liguori thought very highly of the Hail Holy Queen prayer. He analyzed the prayer in great depth in his 18th-century book ‘The Glories of Mary.’
According to Saint Alphonus Liguori’s analysis of the prayer, with the help of the prayer, we can pay homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary and humbly mark her assistance. Over numerous centuries, many priests believe that asking for Virgin Mary’s help is essential for our salvation.
Hail Holy Queen Prayer
Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy,
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this
valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us.
And after this, our exile,
show unto us the blessed
fruit of thy womb,
O clement O loving
O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, Our life, our sweetness, and our hope
With this first line, we are greeting the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since Jesus Christ is considered the human embodiment of Mercy and the Virgin Mary is his mother, therefore, she is the Mother of Mercy. The Virgin Mary is our life, our sweetness, and our hope because she is the mother of Jesus Christ. She brought him into this world and raised him properly. Because of all these reasons we owe her gratitude.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
The phrase ‘to thee do we cry,’ indicates that the people in a Davidic kingdom see Eve as the mother of the king who intercedes on their behalf. The next line, ‘poor banished children of Eve,’ alludes to the fact that we are all born not into immortality in paradise, but because of eve’s acceptance of the serpent and Adam’s acceptance of his wife we were BANISHED from paradise.
To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
The line ‘mourning and weeping in this valley of tears,’ indicates that the whole point of praying and fasting is to mourn over sinfulness. Mourning and weeping over the offenses we have caused God is good from a spiritual perspective.
Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the most gracious advocate for the people in the Davidic kingdom. She is always pleading with the king on behalf of her people.
And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
The people have been banished and exiled out of paradise and from God’s presence. The only people that can lead us to salvation are the Blessed Virgin Mary and the seed of her womb, Jesus Christ. They will help the people fight the ones who banished them. These lines also indicate that through the act of baptism we save ourselves from our banishment. And that the resurrection of Jesus Christ has given the people hope because it implies that one day we will also enter the presence of God.
O clement O loving O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
By asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for us, we are asking her again as the mother of the king to advocate for our rights. We are praying to her that we may be found worthy of the promises made by Christ and that by His wounds we are healed.
There are several prayers that need to be recited during the Rosary, however, the Salve Regina or Hail Holy Queen Prayer, is the prayer with which we usually conclude this particular devotion.
It is also a big part of the last evening chant. Although we are not aware of this particular prayer, it has, however, become not only a big part of our devotion but also a wonderful expression of our spiritual intimacy with Mary.