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Stabat Mater dolorosa

At the Cross, her station keeping

The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal

  1. Stabat Mater dolorosa
    Juxta Crucem lacrymosa,
    Dum pendebat Filius.
    Cujus animam gementem,
    Contristatam et dolentem,
    Pertransivit gladius.
  2. O quam tristis et afflicta
    Fuit illa benedicta
    Mater Unigeniti!
    Quæ moerebat, et dolebat,
    Pia Mater, dum videbat
    Nati poenas inclyti.
  3. Quis est homo qui non fleret,
    Matrem Christi si videret
    In tanto supplicio?
    Quis non posset contristari,
    Christi Matrem contemplari
    Dolentem cum Filio?
  4. Pro peccatis suæ gentis
    Vidit Jesum in tormentis,
    Et flagellis subditum:
    Vidit suum dulcem Natum
    Moriendo desolatum,
    Dum emisit spiritum.
  5. Eja Mater, fons amoris,
    Me sentire vim doloris
    Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
    In amando Christum Deum
    Ut sibi complaceam.
  6. Sancta Mater, istud agas,
    Crucifixi fige plagas
    Cordi meo valide:
    Tui Nati vulnerati,
    Tam dignati pro me pati,
    Poenas mecum divide.
  7. Fac me tecum pie flere,
    Crucifixo condolere,
    Donec ego vixero:
    Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
    Et me tibi sociare
    In planctu desidero.
  8. Virgo virginum præclara,
    Mihi jam non sis amara,
    Fac me tecum plangere:
    Fac ut portem Christi mortem,
    Passionis fac consortem,
    Et plagas recolere.
  9. Fac me plagis vulnerari,
    Fac me Cruce inebriari,
    Et cruore Filii.
    Flammis ne urar succensus,
    Per te, Virgo, sim defensus
    In die judicii.
  10. Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
    Da per Matrem me venire
    Ad palmam victoriæ.
    Quando corpus morietur
    Fac ut animæ donetur
    Paradisi gloria.
  1. At the Cross, her station keeping,
    Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
    Close to Jesus to the last:
    Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
    All His bitter anguish bearing,
    Now at length the sword had passed.
  2. Oh, how sad and sore distressed
    Was that Mother highly blest
    Of the sole-begotten One!
    Christ above in torment hangs;
    She beneath beholds the pangs
    Of her dying, glorious Son.
  3. Is there one who would not weep,
    Whelmed in miseries so deep,
    Christ’s dear Mother to behold?
    Can the human heart refrain
    From partaking in her pain,
    In that Mother’s pain untold?
  4. Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
    She beheld her tender Child,
    All with bloody scourges rent;
    For the sins of His own nation,
    Saw Him hang in desolation,
    Till His Spirit forth He sent.
  5. O thou Mother! fount of love!
    Touch my spirit from above,
    Make my heart with thine accord:
    Make me feel as thou have felt;
    Make my soul to glow and melt
    With the love of Christ my Lord.
  6. Holy Mother! pierce me through;
    In my heart each wound renew
    Of my Savior crucified:
    Let me share with thee His pain,
    Who for all my sins was slain,
    Who for me in torments died.
  7. Let me mingle tears with thee,
    Mourning Him who mourned for me,
    All the days that I may live:
    By the cross with thee to stay;
    There with thee to weep and pray;
    Is all I ask of thee to give.
  8. Virgin of all virgins blest!
    Listen to my fond request:
    Let me share thy grief divine;
    Let me, to my latest breath,
    In my body bear the death
    Of that dying Son of thine.
  9. Wounded with His every wound,
    Steep my soul till it has swooned
    In His very Blood away;
    Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
    Lest in flames I burn and die,
    In that awful judgment day.
  10. Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
    Be thy Mother my defence,
    Be Thy Cross my victory;
    While my body here decays,
    May my soul Thy goodness praise,
    Safe in Paradise with Thee.
Author: Ascribed to Jacopone da Todi, O.F.M. (d. 1306). Meter: Trochaic dimeter. Translation by Father Caswall. There are more than sixty translations, three of which are in Mr. Shipley’s Annus Sanctus. Father Caswall’s translation is by far the most extensively used. Liturgical Use: Sequence for the Mass of the Seven Dolors on the Friday after Passion Sunday, and on the 15th of September when another Feast of the Seven Dolors is celebrated. For Office use, the Stabat Mater is divided into three parts for Vespers, Matins and Lauds, as follows:
54 Vespers: Stabat Mater dolorosa.
55 Matins: Sancta Mater istud agas.
56 Lauds: Virgo virginum præclara.
The Stabat Mater is recognized as the tenderest and most pathetic hymn of the Middle Ages. In the simplest, and at the same time in the most vivid manner, represents the Blessed Mother of God plunged in grief and weeping beneath the Cross on which her beloved Son was suffering so unmerited and so painful a death. The historical event (John 19, 25) is narrated in the first, second, and fourth stanzas. The remaining stanzas are made up of reflections, affections, petitions, and resolutions arising from the contemplation of Our Lord’s bitter sufferings and death. There is an excellent article on this hymn in the Cath. Encycl.. The same article treats of another hymn—the Stabat Mater speciosa which is a sort of imitation of the “Dolorosa.” It represents our Blessed Mother watching beside Our Lord’s cradle at Bethlehem. The two hymns are probably by the same author. The Stabat Mater speciosa is given below with a translation by that “sweet and powerful versifier,” Denis Florence MacCarthy. Mr. MacCarthy’s translations of both hymns are in the Annus Sanctus.

  1. “The sorrowful Mother stood weeping beside the Cross, while her Son hung thereon: a sword pierced her sighing, compassionate, and grief-stricken soul.” Stabat: Stabant autem juxta crucem Jesu mater ejus, etc. (John 19, 25). Pertransivit gladius: Et tuam ipsius animam pertransibit gladius (Luke 2, 35). Read the beautiful Canticle of Simeon (Luke 2, 29-32). The sword of Simeon’s prophecy, which was to pierce the soul of the Mother, was the sword of grief that transfixed her as she stood beside the Cross on Calvary. Mary is the “Sorrowful Mother,” and her Divine Son is the “Man of Sorrows” (Is. 53 3).
  2. “O how sad and how afflicted was that Blessed Mother of the Only-Begotten! How she grieved and suffered, that loving Mother, when she beheld the pains of her glorious Son.”
  3. “Who is there that would not weep, if he should behold the Mother of Christ in such great distress? Who would be able not to grieve, if he should contemplate the Mother of Christ suffering with her Son?” Constr.: Quis posset non contristari. Contemplari = si contemplaretur.
  4. “For the sins of His own nation, she saw Jesus in torments and subjected to stripes. She beheld her sweet Son dying, abandoned, until He yielded up the ghost.” Pro peccatis suæ gentis: Ipse enim salvum faciet populum suum a peccatis eorum (Matt. 1, 21). For a history of the Passion of Our Lord, cf. Matt. 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; John 18-19. Emisit spiritum: Jesus autem iterum clamans voce magna, emisit spiritum (Matt. 27, 50).
  5. “Ah, Mother, fount of love, make me feel the force of grief, make me weep with thee. Make my heart burn with the love of Christ, my God, that I may be pleasing to Him.” Sibi, for ei or ipsi. This use of the pronouns is quite common in the Late Latin and in the Vulgate; e.g., Matt. 16, 21; Mark 10, 32; Gen. 2, 18; Tobias 3, 11.
  6. “Holy Mother, mayest thou bring it to pass, that the wounds of the Crucified may be deeply stamped upon my heart. Share with me the sufferings of thy wounded Son who thus deigned to suffer for me.” The Prophet Zacharias had long foretold these same plagæ in the sacred members of Our Lord: Quid sunt plagæ istæ in medio manuum tuarum? Et dicet: His plagatus sum in domo eorum qui diligeband me (Zach. 13, 6). The following is D. F. Maccarthy’s rendering of this stanza:
    Blessed Mother of prediction,
    Stamp the marks of crucifixion
         Deeply on my stony heart,
    Ever leading where thy bleeding
    Son is pleading for my needing,
         Let me in His wounds take part.
  7. “Grant that I may devoutly weep with thee, and suffer with the Crucified as long as I shall live. I long to stand beside the Cross with thee, and to unite myself to thee, in thy grief.”
  8. “O peerless Virgin of virgins, be not unfavorable disposed towards me now; grant that I may mourn with thee. Grant that I may bear about (in my body) the death of Christ; make me a sharer in His passion, and make me mindful of His sufferings.” Amarus, bitter; unkind, ill-disposed. Portem mortem Christi: A reference to II Cor. 4, 10. Fac (me) consortem.
  9. “Grant that I may be wounded with His wounds, that I may be inebriated with the Cross and with the Blood of thy Son. That I may not be tormented by the flames of hell, may I, O Virgin, be defended by thee on the day of Judgment.” Succensus, from succendo 3, set on fire; used here pleonastically. Inebriari: As in Ps. 35, 9: Inebriabuntur ab ubertate domus tuæ: et torrente voluptatis tuæ potabis eos. Translation: “They shall be inebriated (i.e., plentifully filled, sated, filled to overflowing) with the plenty of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure.” See also Ps. 22, 5.
  10. “When, O Christ, the hour has come for me to depart hence, grant that through Thy Mother I may obtain the palm of victory. When my body shall die, grant that the glory of Paradise be given to my soul.”