17 May 2017

May: Chaldean Catholic Basilica Hymn to Mary


In this month of May which for Latin Catholics is a month under the patronage of and dedicated to Our Lady, St Mary the Virgin, I have thought about those parts of the Catholic Church and their prayers and hymns concerning the Blessed Mother Mary that may not be so familiar to readers. Today I have in mind the Chaldean Catholic Church which is in communion with the Holy See. It shares largely the same history, language, culture, and liturgy as the Assyrian Church of the East. Both Churches have suffered horribly since the US invasion of Iraq to the present day. Nevertheless, both Churches endure.

Thinking of those Churches today I wanted to share something from the Marian element of their worship and prayer, and it struck me that one of the fixed hymns for Evening Prayer would be a good window into the great beauty and simplicity of the prayer of the Chaldean Church of the East. The following translation into English by Fr Andrew Younan is taken from Emmanuel, a Book of Public Prayer published in 2013 by the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St Peter the Apostle in the United States. I also highly recommend Fr Andrew Younan's book Perpetual Jubilee: Meditations on the Chaldean Liturgical Year — it is extraordinarily informative and spiritually uplifting. 

In the prayer book Emmanuel the following Marian hymn is numbered among the Basilica Hymns for Evening Prayer to be sung from Christmas to Lent and the evenings after Pentecost, and I share it here hoping that you, dear Reader, will find it as timely and as beautiful as I do:

O holy Virgin Mary, 
mother of Jesus our Savior: 
plead and implore for mercies 
from the Child 
who dawned from your womb, 
that in his grace 
he may make times of distress pass by us 
and establish peace and serenity for us; 
and through your prayers, 
may the Church and her children 
be guarded from the evil one. 
On the glorious day 
when his Greatness is revealed, 
may we be worthy to delight with you 
in the bridal chamber of Light.

Maryam bthulta qaddyshta,
Yimmeh d-Ysho' paroqan,
m-none, tlob rahme,
m-yalda admin 'ubbakh hwelih,
d-mafit minion b-taybutheh,
zawne milyi 'aqatha,
w-'illan mashre
shayneh wa-shlameh,
wab-yadh, slawathekh
nater lah l'edta, wyalah min
bysha, wabyawma shwyha,
d-mithgalya rabbutheh, tawukh
d'immakh mabismukj
ba-gnon nuhra.

Chaldean Catholic Church of the Virgin Mary of the Harvest
(Our Lady Guardian of Plants) in Alqosh, Iraq before the invasion by Daesh (ISIS/ISIL).  
"Holy Virgin Mary, we love you for you love even the tiniest growing plant as well as the smallest human being. You are the Ark of the Lord. You are the Temple containing the Most Holy. No one can destroy you, and as long as we have you we have our Messiah and Savior Jesus. And in Jesus we have everything. Halleluia. Halleluia. Halleluia."

Let us all remember to pray for our Christian sisters and brothers who are suffering such intense persecution throughout the Middle East and especially in Iraq and Syria. Please consider donating some money to Aid to the Church in Need or any of the other agencies that are especially seeking to provide relief and help to the suffering Church and her children.  And let us thank God for their continued witness to Jesus Christ whether in their homelands or in Sweden, or the United States, or Australia, or Canada, or wherever they may be.  May Our Lord and Our Lady bless them, preserve them, and bring about a great harvest of faith through them all.