A Church Musician’s Litany of Saints

After writing about St. Ephraim last night, I got to thinking about how frustrating I find it that the official patron saint of music is St. Cecilia. According to the legends, Cecilia had vowed her virginity to God, like so many women saints; but, her parents married her off anyway. Her association with music was apparently based on a line from the hagiographical Acts of Cecelia stating that “While the profane music of her wedding was heard, Cecilia was singing in her heart a hymn of love for Jesus, her true spouse.”

Even aside from the problems with that story, that’s pretty obscure.

So I offer this litany of saints for musicians, suitable either for private devotion, or for common (sung) prayer by the choir at the beginning of rehearsal or in preparation for Mass:

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Holy Gabriel, pray for us.

The angel Gabriel has the most well-known association with music: even in popular culture, it’s reasonably well known that Gabriel will announce the second coming of the Lord by blowing a trumpet.

Holy Miriam, pray for us.

After the LORD led the Israelites through the Red Sea,

Then Miriam the prophet, sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her to dance with timbrels. And Miriam chanted for them:
Sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously,
Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.
— Ex 15:20-21

Holy David, pray for us.

King David, composer of psalms (many of which were later used as the hymns of Temple worship), played the harp or lyre.

Holy Ephraim, pray for us.

Ephraim of Edessa composed hundreds of hymns that celebrated the orthodox doctrines of the Council of Nicaea, and led a choir in singing them.

Holy Ambrose, pray for us.

Bishop Ambrose of Milan did something similar in the West, and organized a sit-in,accompanied by such hymns, defying the emperor’s order to cede church property to the Arians.

Holy Gregory, pray for us.

Gregory the Great was a sixth century Pope, and is the Gregory of “Gregorian chant.”

Holy Hildegard, pray for us.

Hildegard of Bingen was a medieval abbess, theologian, mystic, and composer of Gregorian chant.

Holy Blaise, pray for us.

St. Blaise, while not having any direct association with music, is the traditional patron against coughs, against throat diseases, and for healthy throats, and is therefore an eminently suitable saint for singers to invoke!

All you choirs of angels and saints, pray for us!

Christ, hear us. Christ, hear us.
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer. Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.

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