Notes by Steve V. Sinclair
Regina Coeli, or “Rejoice, Queen of Heaven,” honors the Virgin Mary, and is used in the Roman Catholic liturgy during the Easter season. Mozart composed three settings of this text—the work that we hear today is the last of those three. The exact date that the piece was written is unknown, but scholars believe it was completed in 1779 due to its stylistic similarities to Mozart’s Dominican Vespers, which was written that same year. The repeated “Alleluia” in this work has a rhythm that may bring to mind Handel’s Messiah, which Mozart heard in a 1777 performance in Mannheim, Germany.
This piece was originally written for a very small ensemble: just two violins, two oboes, two trumpets, timpani, and organ, in addition to the small chorus and four vocal soloists. Each vocal line is sung by either the soloists, the chorus, or a combination of the two, and they each conclude with an Alleluia sung by the full chorus. The solo lines, which are not highly ornamented, are integrated into the work as a whole, and the soloists and chorus alternate continually. The violins enrich the sound by doubling the chorus lines, and also serve as intonation support for the singers.
Scroll down below the video for text and translation.
Quia quem meruisti portare, Alleluia,
Regina Coeli, laetare, Alleluia.
Resurrexit sicut dixit. Alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia.
Bright Queen of heaven, rejoice! Alleluia.
For He, whom you deserved to bear, Alleluia,
Is, as He prophesied, arisen. Alleluia.
Pray for us. Alleluia.