St. Louis de Montfort notes that entrusting ourselves and all of our actions to Mary is “the surest, the easiest, the shortest and the most perfect means of going to Jesus Christ” (True Devotion to Mary I.3.2), who Himself deigned to be born of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the sake of our salvation. With that end in mind, here are five ways to start incorporating (think about that word – one could just as easily say incarnating!) more Marian devotion into the life or your parish or school choir.
1. Open or close your rehearsals with a Marian prayer.
More than anything else, prayer has to be the lifeblood of our work as church musicians. We ought to be praying for and with the members of our ensembles, both corporately and individually. And we can foster this culture of prayer particularly by utilizing the treasury of Marian prayers offered to us by the Church. Consider:
- Opening your rehearsal with a few moments to share prayer requests and a collective Hail Mary for those intentions.
- Leading your choir in the ancient prayer Sub tuum praesidium (“We fly to thy protection, O Holy Mother of God…”) as an act of intercession for those members who are absent due to travel or illness.
- Closing your rehearsal with a Memorare (“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary…”) for the various intentions expressed earlier, for the health and safety of the members of your choir and their families, for the fruitfulness of your work as liturgical musicians, etc.
2. Teach your choir to sing the seasonal Marian antiphons.
Push for the singing of the Marian antiphons at Mass (perhaps they would make a good substitute for a recessional hymn), but teach them to your choristers whether you will sing them at Mass or not. The investment of a few precious minutes of rehearsal time will be well worth your choristers’ knowing these melodies by heart for the rest of their lives (especially if they are children).
- Alma Redemptoris Mater (used from Advent I to Candlemas)
- Ave Regina Caelorum (used from Candlemas until the Easter Vigil)
- Regina Caeli (used from the Easter Vigil until Pentecost)
- Salve Regina (used from Pentecost until Advent I)
BONUS • Jeff Ostrowsky, president of Corpus Christi Watershed, recently published this huge article on the Salve Regina.
3. Promote the Five First Saturdays devotion.
Our Lady of Fatima promised to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation all those who devoutly undertake the following practices on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months:
- Make a sacramental Confession (within a week before or after, if not on the first Saturday itself)
- Receive Holy Communion in a state of grace (preferably, but not necessarily, within the context of a Mass)
- Recite five decades of the Most Holy Rosary
- Meditate on the mysteries of the rosary for fifteen minutes (in addition to the recitation of the five decades)
4. Encourage the recitation of the rosary by and for your musicians.
Even in the 20th century alone, Our Lady has appeared to the faithful many times (such as at Fatima, Akita, and Kibeho), and her most insistent request has always been the recitation of the daily rosary. Consider:
- Taking up the practice of a daily rosary yourself. Intercede not only for yourself and your family, but also for your parish priest(s), for the members of your choir, and for the edification and sanctification of every person at your parish. If you’re already praying one rosary each day, try four.
- Lead your choir in praying the rosary before or after Mass, in pilgrimages, on bus trips, etc.
- Teach your choristers to make rosaries (this is especially fun for children!) and sell them to parishioners as a fundraiser for your music program.
5. Lead your choir members in a Marian consecration.
Along with the 54-day rosary novena, the 33-day preparation for Marian consecration is a veritable treasury of graces. Many texts are available. Consider:
- The original: True Devotion to Mary: With Preparation for Total Consecration by St. Louis de Montfort.
- The more modern version: 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, available as an inexpensive booklet for group use.
- The short version: Marian Consecration with Aquinas: A Nine Day Path for Growing Closer to the Mother of God by Matt Fradd and Fr. Gregory Pine, OP.
How will you and your choir grow closer to Jesus through Mary this year?
Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, pray for us!