Hymns for Our Lady of Sorrows / The Seven Sorrows of of the Blessed Virgin Mary (15 September)

This is a selection of hymns for the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, also known as The Seven Dolors, which is celebrated on 15 September, and sometimes also marked on the Friday before Holy Week (ie the Friday before Palm Sunday).

About Our Lady of Sorrows

This is one of many Marian feast days which occurs throughout the liturgical year. It marks seven particularly sorrowful events in Mary's life, focussing on her experience of them - whereas on the actual days, the focus is on Jesus experience.   The seven sorrows are:
  • The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  • The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  • Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
  • Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  • Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  • The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  • The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

The observance was started in the 12th century and was especially promoted by the Cistercian and Servite religious orders.   It was originally called "Our Lady of Compassion", highlighting the great love Mary displayed in suffering with her Son.   In the 17th century it was called "The Seven Dolors" - referring to the prophesy of Simeon that seven swords would pierce Mary's heart.  In recent times, devotion to the Mother of Sorrows was promoted by Padré Pio (Saint Pio of Pietrelcina).

There are many artworks which show Mater Dolorosa (“Mother of Sorrows") - Mary's heart exposed and with one or all seven swords or daggers piercing it.

The Sorrows motivate an understanding of Mary as the loving consoler of people who are themselves touched by various sorrows and afflictions:  she knows our pains, because she suffered from Bethlehem to Calvary. She particularly understands the torment of parents, when their own children are suffering.

In some communities, the whole month of September is devoted to meditating on the seven sorrows.



Readings

First: 1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14 - Paul expresses his gratitude for being strengthened by Christ

Psalm   16 - You are my inheritance, O Lord Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge / I bless the Lord who counsels me / You will show me the path to life,

Gospel:
Luke 2:33-35
- Simeon meets the child Jesus in the temple, and prophesies the Sorrows through his life.

OR

John 19:25-27 - Mary stands at the foot of the cross as Jesus is dying - Jesus proclaims that John is to take care of her as if his own.



Suggested free-use hymns

The hymn most associated with this feast is the Stabat Mater.   This has a  number of translations, including At the Cross her Station Keeping


Other options include:

Come and Mourn with Me Awhile - Faber

I can Scarcely see Thee Jesus - pre 1913, most likely now public domain

It is Well with my Soul - Spafford

O Mother Most Afflicted (included in this 1906 hymnal - most likely now public domain)

What a Sea of Tears and Sorrows - Campbell



Suggested hymns which may still be copyright

The Way of the Cross - Leslie

Our Lady of Sorrows  - Cave

Our Lady Who is Full of Grace - Cave





Resources for church-music selection



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