From graceful concertos of the baroque era to the edgy rap we can hear today, music has been a part of civilization right from the beginning. Some of the most beautiful music comes from the Catholic Church. This is because the compositions are in honor of all who are in heaven. A superb example is the Salve Regina.
Originating from the Middle Ages and believed to be written traditionally by Bl. Herman the Cripple, the Salve Regina is one of the four Marian antiphons and is also a prayed at the end of the Low Mass and the Rosary. As a prayer it is known as the Hail Holy Queen. It is sung at the end of Compline, the ninth liturgy of the hours, from the Saturday before Trinity Sunday to the first Sunday of Advent.
The Salve Regina has been sung at the close of Compline all the way back to the thirteenth century. This probably can be followed back to when the monks use to quietly sing the Salve Regina walking back to their cubicles. It is the most well known of the four Marian Anthems sung at the end of Compline and this is most likely due to the many other times it is sung or prayed.
The current form of the Salve Regina was set down at the Cluny Abbey in the twelfth century. There it was used as a processional hymn for many Marian feasts.
It was also chanted during the Crusades. The Knights Templar sang it as the stormed into battle, turning the previously uplifting hymn into a glorious yet dire battle cry. Sailors also use to sing the Salve Regina and it became part of a ritual for blessing boats.
This beautiful hymn played a big part in the affairs of the Church and still does.