Immaculate Mary (The Lourdes Hymn)

The creation of a new hymnal for our church will involve a few real judgment calls, and the 19th century hymn, Immaculate Mary (Likuj Presvjataja) is one of them.

This is a hymn which was included among the hymns in our 1978 Divine Liturgies book, but not in the 1985 Marian Hymnal.

Boh predvicnyj

This hymn is well-known and popular, especially among Greek Catholics from Europe, who sing it with great devotion:


The Slavonic text that we have is not the problem;  the English text is.

  • It uses specifically Roman Catholic terminology, which
  • Runs counter to much Orthodox theology on the Mother of God (even if they can at least theoretically be harmonized), which in turn
  • Causes endless controversy in our church as well.

Here are the English lyrics in the 1978 Levkulic “pew book”:

Immaculate Mary, our hearts are on fire.
That title so wondrous fills all our desire.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice, O Mary!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice, O Mary!

We pray for God’s glory, may His kingdom come.
We pray for His vicar, the bishop of Rome.

In grief and temptation, in joy and in pain,
We turn to you, Mary, your favor to gain.

It’s worth noting a few things:

  • “That title so lovely” (i.e. “Immaculate Mary”) is almost entirely foreign to our own church’s original traditions, and we don’t use it liturgically.
  • We refer to the Pope as “our holy father, the Bishop of Rome” but we don’t typically call him “God’s vicar.”
  • Among Roman Catholics, the refrain is usually in Latin (“Ave! Ave! Ave, Maria!”) with entirely different accents. Whoever did this translation adapted the English to fit the way the melody is sung to a Slavonic text, but left a terrible accent at the end (“Re-joice O Mar-RY”).

I think the hymn (particularly in Slavonic) is important enough to include, and so I have come up with a provisional English version as well. Of various well-known English verses, I chose two which fit our theology, and do not appear to be under copyright; both of them fir our church’s current usage better than the corresponding verses in the Levkulic setting. To these I have added verse 3 from the Levkulic version.

Here is the result:

Boh predvicnyj

In the first line of the refrain, I changed the quarter note on “Ma(ry)” to rising eighth notes, which ameliorates the bad accent on “ReJOICE o Ma-RY.”

Thoughts or suggestions?

Please leave a comment!

3 thoughts on “Immaculate Mary (The Lourdes Hymn)”

  1. Love this song, thanks for including it. I believe we sang this in our processions at Our Lady of Perpetual Help school in Poland (Youngstown) Ohio, about 65 years ago.

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