Ave Maris Stella: Everything You Need

Catholics have accepted some of the worst distortions of their Faith in the order of music, art, and literature without a shiver of discontent because they never really heard the “Tantum Ergo” or the “Ave Maris Stella” –not for lack of faith, but because there had never been ordinary music in the home to have created the habit of good sound and sense.

–John Senior, The Restoration of Christian Culture

So this ends here. We will get the music of the Ave Maris Stella into your home right now. Into your home, your heart, and your soul!

The Ave Maris Stella is a beautiful 8th-century Gregorian Chant hymn to the Blessed Virgin, invoking her under her ancient title of “Star of the Sea”–Maris Stella/Stella Maris. As she guides us to Christ and shows us the way to Heaven, it is lovely and fitting to compare the Virgin Mary to a star guiding wayfarers home. St. Jerome is the first person known to have done this, referring to her under this title. In Latin “mare,” the word for “sea,” sounds a little like the name “Maria,” so I believe it all started from a pious “pun” of sorts on her name. Appropriately, the hymn is used in the (traditional) Divine Office for Vespers for Marian feasts.

Here are the words:

Ave Maris Stella hymn text in an antiphonary, c. 1380
Image on the base of the sanctuary lamp of a Benedictine Archabbey
Ave, maris stella,
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix caeli porta.

Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pace,
Mutans Evae nomen.

Solve vincla reis,
Profer lumen caecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce

Monstra te esse matrem
Sumat per te preces,
Qui pro nobis natus
Tulit esse tuus.

Virgo singularis,
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos,
Mites fac et castos.

Vitam praesta puram,
Iter para tutum,
Ut videntes Jesum,
Semper collaetemur.

Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus
Spiritui Sancto,
Tribus honor unus. Amen.

Here is a lovely rendition of the solemn plainchant (Mode I):

Learn and sing along:

Playable audio with sheet music display (English translation also displayed there)

Printable Sheet music:

  • Ave Maris Stella in chant notation linked here–(scroll halfway down that page)
Translation Practice Page
  • Ave Maris Stella in modern notation here

Practice with Latin:

Ave Maris Stella Translation Practice Pages

*Erratum: On the final page, the page with the Doxologies, the glossary word “Patri” should be followed by the phrase “to the Father.” Do please write the missing word “to” in for yourself!

More Music:

  • Choir directors and music students: dozens of choral settings and other musical derivations from this lovely piece have been composed, you can find a listing of many of those here.
  • A loosely-translated, “representative” text in English called “Hail, O Star That Pointest” can be sung to the solemn plainchant hymn tune of the video, audio file, and sheet music linked above

Pray and love this beautiful hymn. It’s another extraordinary treasure from Catholic tradition. Enjoy!

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