Tuesday, March 19, 2024

A Contrafact of the Salve Regina for St Joseph

In the study of Gregorian chant, the term “contrafact” is used to mean the replacement of one text by another, while keeping the same or similar music. For example, in St Thomas’ Office for Corpus Christi, most of the musical parts are contrafacts of pieces from earlier Offices. Here we see the beginning of the Magnificat antiphon of First Vespers, “O quam suavis”, and in the margin, the note “contra O Christi pietas, from (the Office of) St Nicholas.” (This manuscript, Paris BNF Latin 1143, came from the library of Pope Boniface VIII, and is believed to be an official papal archival copy of the Office and Mass of Corpus Christi, copied off St Thomas’ original.)

A reader, Mr Thomas Rohn, recently shared with us this contrafact of the Salve Regina, written in honor of St Joseph, whose feast we keep today, which we are glad to share. The translation provided below is my own. (Click image to enlarge)

We know the words “Go to Joseph” in the Scriptures; now and always we obey this command. Therefore we shall lie hidden with thee, o patron, we shall rest behind thee, tired and pressed (oppressed, burdened etc.), surrounded by our enemies. Therefore, come now, our champion, swiftly defend us against evil spirit and men; safely deliver us to the goal of our journey, to Jesus, the son of Thy spouse whom thou kept safe; o chaste, o prudent, o faithful Spouse of Mary.

St Joseph and the Child Jesus, 1676, by the Flemish still life painter Franz van Everbroeck (1628 ca. - date of death unknown). Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

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