Chant notation of the "Regina caeli" antiphon in simple tone

"Regina caeli" (Ecclesiastical Latin: [reˈdʒina ˈtʃeli]; Queen of Heaven) is a musical antiphon addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary that is used in the liturgy of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church during the Easter season, from Easter Sunday until Pentecost. During this season, it is the Marian antiphon that ends Compline (Night Prayer)[1] and it takes the place of the traditional thrice-daily Angelus prayer.

In the past, the spelling Regina coeli was sometimes used,[2] but this spelling is no longer found in official liturgical books.


A 1359 manuscript with the text and plainchant melody

The antiphon itself consists of four lines:

Compline, as revised in 1969 after the Second Vatican Council, ends with the antiphon alone. In the earlier Roman Breviary and in recitation at Angelus time during Eastertide, the following versicle and the following prayer are added to the antiphon:

A verse translation in metre used in some Anglican churches is usually sung to the hymn tune known as the Easter Hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" (Jesus Christ is risen today) or the hymn tune "Ave Virgo Virginum" (Hail Virgin of virgins):

℣. Joy to thee, O Queen of Heaven. Alleluia!
℟. He whom Thou wast meet to bear, Alleluia!
℣. As He promised hath arisen, Alleluia!
℟. Pour for us to God thy prayer. Alleluia!
℣. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
℟. For the Lord is risen indeed, alleluia.
Let us pray:
O God, who through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, didst vouchsafe to give joy to the whole world: grant, we beseech thee, that through His Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. ℟. Amen.


Part of the setting by Charles de Courbe

The authorship of "Regina caeli" is unknown. It has been traced back to the 12th century and is found in an antiphonary of c. 1200 now in St Peter's Basilica in Rome.[5] In the first half of the 13th century it was in Franciscan use, after compline.[citation needed]

Jacobus de Voragine's thirteenth-century Golden Legend includes a story that, during a procession with an image of the Blessed Virgin that was held to pray for the ending of a pestilence in Rome, angels were heard singing the first three lines of the "Regina caeli" antiphon, to which Pope Gregory the Great (590−604) thereupon added the fourth, after which he saw, atop what would consequently become known as the Castel Sant'Angelo, a vision of an angel sheathing his sword, thus signifying the cessation of the plague.[6]

Polyphonic settings

As well as the plainsong melodies (a simple and an ornate form) associated with it, the "Regina caeli" has, since the 16th century, often been provided with polyphonic settings.[7] Pierre de Manchicourt's setting was published in 1539.[8] Tomás Luis de Victoria composed a setting for five voices in 1572[9] and another for eight voices in 1576.[10] Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina also composed at least two settings of the antiphon. A setting for four voices by Charles de Courbe dates from 1622,[11] and Lully's motet Regina coeli, laetare dates from 1684. 7 Regina caeli, H.16, H.30, H.31, H.32, H.32 a, H.32 b, H.46, (1670–1680) have been composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. There are two settings by François Giroust, three settings by the young Mozart (K. 108, K. 127, and K. 276), and one by Brahms (Op. 37 #3).[12]


Benedict XIV established the same indulgences as the Angelus, i.e. those granted by Benedict XIII with the indult of 14 September 1724: plenary indulgence once a month, on a day of your choice, to those who, having confessed, contrited and communicated, had devoutly recited the prayer in the morning, at noon and in the evening, at the ringing of the bell, and 100 days of indulgence in the same way to those who had recited it in the other days, with the faculty not to lose the indulgence for those who recited the Angelus without knowing the Regina Caeli and subsequent faculty granted on 5 December 1727 to the religious busy at the ringing of the bell to recite the prayer at another time.[13]

Leo XIII (1878-1903) modified the conditions for obtaining the gift of indulgence, making them easier. Until the reform of indulgences implemented by Pope Paul VI in 1967[14] the same indulgence was still granted.[15]

The Enchiridion Indulgentiarum currently includes a partial indulgence for the faithful who recite the Regina Caeli in the three prescribed moments of the day during the Easter season.[16] To obtain the gift of indulgence does not require the recitation of the Gloria and what follows. The concession is given for texts approved by the Holy See, therefore it is necessary that the texts in the vernacular are approved by the Episcopal Conferences and subsequently confirmed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Therefore, differing translations are not indulged and can possibly be used for private performance. As with all indulgences, it is necessary to be in a state of grace; furthermore, the indulgence is applicable to oneself or to the souls of the deceased who are in Purgatory, but is not applicable to other living people on earth.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Finally one of the antiphons of the Blessed Virgin Mary is said. In Eastertide this is always the Regina caeli" (General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, p. 18, paragraph 92).
  2. ^ Cf. Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen; Battles, Ford Lewis (1975). Magna Carta Latina. Argo Books. p. 149. ISBN 9780915138074. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  3. ^ Loyola Press: "Regina Caeli". Re-accessed Oct 2021.
  4. ^ Roman Missal, Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, IV. In Easter Time
  5. ^ Heinz, Andreas (1997). "Marianische Antiphonen". In Walter Kasper (ed.). Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (in German). Vol. 6 (3 ed.). Freiburg im Breisgau: Verlag Herder. p. 1358. ISBN 9783451220012. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  6. ^ Jacobus de Voragine (1995). The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints. Vol. 1. Translated by William Granger Ryan. Princeton University Press. p. 174. ISBN 0691001537. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  7. ^ An unidentified polyphonic setting. Youtube. Re-accessed Oct 2021.
  8. ^ Regina coeli laetare: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project, Pierre de Manchicourt
  9. ^ Regina caeli laetare for 5 voices: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project, Tomás Luis de Victoria
  10. ^ Regina caeli laetare for 8 voices: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project, Tomás Luis de Victoria
  11. ^ Cantiques spirituels nouvellement mis en musique à IIII, V, VI, VIIet VIII parties par le Sr de Courbes, Paris, Pierre Ballard ed. 1622. (F-Pn Rés. Vm7. 273)
  12. ^ Three Sacred Choruses, Op. 37 (Brahms): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  13. ^ Article titled Indulgenza (indulgence) in Biblioteca sacra ovvero Dizionario universale delle scienze ecclesiastiche che comprende la storia della religione, della sua istituzione e dei suoi dogmi; la storia parimenti della Chiesa nella sua disciplina, ne' riti, nelle cerimonie e ne' sacramenti; la teologia dogmatica e morale, la decisione dei casi di coscienza, il diritto canonico; i santi e i principali personaggi dell'Antica e della Nuova Legge, gli scrittori piu' illustri in materia di religione, i papi, i concilj, le sedi episcopali di tutta la cristianita'; finalmente la storia degli ordini religiosi, degli scismi e delle eresie, ora e per la prima volta in italiano tradotta ed ampliata da una società di ecclesiastici, vol. 11, Ranieri -Fanfani, 1835, pp. 193-194
  14. ^ See Paul VI, vi_apc_01011967_indulgentiarum-doctrina.html Apostolic Constitution «Indulgentiarum Doctrina», on The Holy See, 1 January 1967.
  15. ^ Cf. Eternal Maxims, 80th edition, Libreria Editrice “Aquileia”, Udine, 1922, p. 8.
  16. ^ See [Paenitentiaria Apostolica, Enchiridion indulgentiarum, quarto editur, 16 July 1999, on ' 'The Holy See, Concessiones 17, § 2.
  17. ^ Cf. Apostolic Penitentiary, The gift of Indulgence, on content/romancuria/it/tribunali/penitenzieria-apostolica/documenti.html The Holy See, Rome, 29 January 2000, nn. 3.7. URL consulted on 11 February 2021.