Spiritual songs > Hymns to the Mother of God

O Marije, Mati Boža, prečista

Boh predvicnyj

The text of this hymn to the Mother of God is that of Monsignor William Levkulic, who also published an English translation, O Mary, Mother of our God. Text and music can be found in the MCI Byzantine Catholic Hymnal.

Sources

This hymn was printed in the Užhorod Pisennik (1913) as hymn number 137, with 17 verses

Father Stefan Papp printed three verses, with music, on page 68 of his collection, Duchovňi Pisňi (1969). The final line of each verse uses a different text from that in the Pisennik, with a different number of syllables, implying that the melody he gives may not be the original one.

In 1978, Monsignor William Levkulic published the first two verses of Father Papp's text (without music) in The Divine Liturgy, a Book of Prayer. The same verses, with music, were included in the Marian Hymnal (1984), with with a slightly different melody (see below).

Commentary

The melody for this hymn, as given by Father Papp, is in a consistent 4/4 time, and correctly accents the Slavonic text:

Perhaps because the English translation begins with a weak syllable, "O", but kept the same note pattern, Monsignor Levkulic's English setting made a significant change to the first phrase of the melody:

and this same pattern was also applied to the Slavonic, often resulting in a mis-accented text ("o MAriJE maTI boža"):

This reflects a common change made in the English settings of the 1960's: the high note in the melodic arc (here, the B flat on the second syllable of "Boža") is changed from an unaccented to an accented note.

Both the original and the "new" Slavonic version of the melody are heard across our churches, sometime causing very rough singing of the hymn.

If any new English translation is made, it may be desirable to resolve this inconsistency in some way. (Note, for example, that in the first verse,
"O Mary, Mother of our God", will always be sung in a way that changes the flow of the original melody; but the second verse, "O Most Pure One, you were enthroned" can be sung to either accent-pattern. Sometimes one can hear it sung both ways, simultaneously, in the same congregation.)