Behind the Mother’s Day Hymn: Hail Queen of Heaven
In recognition of Mother’s Day, Hail Queen of Heaven is a song about the Virgin Mary.
Hail Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star is a Marian hymn, which means it is focused on the Virgin Mary.
The hymn was written by Father John Lingard a Catholic priest and historian, who helped smooth the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act in England, which reduced and removed the many limitations on the Catholics which were placed by King Henry VIII and his successors.
The hymn is loosely based on Ave Maris Stella, a medieval Latin plainchant sung to the modified traditional English melody Stella, which was published in 1851.
The “Ave maris stella” was highly influential in presenting Mary as a merciful and loving Mother.
J. Vincent Higginson described it as “one of the oldest English vernacular hymns commonly found in Catholic hymnals.”
The title, “Star of the Sea” is one of the oldest and most widespread titles applied to Mary. The hymn is frequently used as a prayer for safe-conduct for travelers.
Many of the apostles were fishermen and a ship was often used as an early Christian symbol. This image often indicated travelling life’s stormy or tempestuous seas.
Many Tolkien scholars see the Elvish hymn A Elbereth Gilthoniel an echo of the Marian hymn, Hail Queen of Heaven.
Lingard is also credited with translating the carol “The Snow Lay on the Ground” from the traditional Irish.