Our Lady is hailed as the open gate of Heaven.
In Advent and throughout the Christmas season, the Church proposes an ancient hymn known by its Latin name, Alma Redemptoris Mater. It was written by St. Herman the Cripple in the 11th century and is recited after the conclusion of Night Prayer.
It is a beautiful prayer, one that points our hearts towards Bethlehem, in eager anticipation of the birth of the Savior.
While generally chanted in Latin, there are a number of translations. One beautiful rendering in English is thanks to St. John Henry Newman:
Mother of the Redeemer, who art ever of heaven
The open gate, and the star of the sea, aid a fallen people,
Which is trying to rise again; thou who didst give birth,
While Nature marveled how, to thy Holy Creator,
Virgin both before and after, from Gabriel’s mouth
Accepting the All hail, be merciful towards sinners.
V: The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
R: And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.