Latin Translation to Sister Act Hail Holy Queen Song

This does not perfectly fit the traditional thread, but it does. :slight_smile: Hail Holy Queen is a very traditional prayer and song. The Sister Act Movie remade it and there are two verses I don’t know. Would you translate the following verses into english?

Mater ad mater inter marata
Sanctus sanctus dominus
Virgo respice mater ad spice
Sanctus sanctus dominus

So far I roughly understand the verse as:

Mother to Mother (intermediating?)
Holy, Holy Lord
Virgin look(s) back Mother to _________
Holy, Holy Lord

“Inter” would be “between” or “among.” And I don’t think “marata” is a word; it would have to be a neuter plural, and I’m unable to come up with any word it might be. One possibility is that this may be a typo for “merata,” a variant form of the adjective meracus, -a, um, which means “pure, unmixed” (with, as far as I can tell, more of an emphasis on “unmixed,” e.g. as of wine, that on “pure” in the sense you might say it of women). As a neuter plural, “inter merata” would then be “among pure [things].”

That still leaves us with “ad mater,” which is definitely wrong, as ad must take the accusative: “ad matrem.” I listened to the clip and couldn’t tell exactly what was being said, so maybe this is another typo in the transcription.

In the third line, “ad spice” should probably be rendered “adspice” or “aspice.” Both it and “respice” are singular imperatives, and mean roughly “look upon, behold, regard, turn attention to.”

The rest of what you have is right, although it is worth observing that “Sanctus, sanctus Dominus” is not in the vocative (speaking to the Lord), but probably, with the verb implied, means closer to “Holy, holy is the Lord.”

Hope this helps. As far as I know this was invented for the movie, so I wouldn’t expect it to be a shining example of Latin liturgical poetry.

I couldn’t give an accurate translation into English, but as MarkThompson suggested, I think that some of the Latin words are wrong.

  • I think “Mater ad mater” is “Mater amata” - i.e. beloved mother.

  • “Inter marata” should be “Intemerata” - i.e. pure/chaste.

“Respice” might be translated as “caring” - i.e. “caring Virgin”; “Mater adspice” might be translated as “watchful Mother”…though that would only be a guess.

I totally agree with Mark’s last line re. Sister Act and Latin liturgical poetry.

*Mater amata, intemerata *and *Virgo respice, mater adspice *are lines from the hymn *O Sanctissima *(O Most Holy One).

(And yes: *Sanctus, sanctus Dominus *is “Holy, holy Lord” as might be found in the …um… Sanctus)


Thank you! I knew I was missing something obvious, but since each phrase was wrong my Googling wasn’t turning up anything to jog my memory.

“Respice” might be translated as “caring” - i.e. “caring Virgin”; “Mater adspice” might be translated as “watchful Mother”…though that would only be a guess.

I don’t think so; these are definitely singular imperatives: something like “O Virgin, behold [us]; O Mother, hearken [to us].”

Ah … yes, that’s it! O Sanctissima. I knew it was something, but couldn’t put my finger on exactly what.

O Sanctissima O Piissima
Dulcis Virgo Maria
Mater amta intemerata
Ora ora pro nobis

Ora ora
Ora pro nobis

Virgo respice, Mater adspice
Audi nos, O Maria!
Sicut lilium inter spinas
Sic Maria inter filias

It looks like, in typical Holywood fashion, they went by untrained ear and never bothered to look at the actual text.

No, they certainly weren’t thinking about the actual text - I think they came across some phrases from a Marian hymn which had a suitable metre…While those lines are part of O Sanctissima, in the film they only serve as a kind of interlude between the two verses of Hail Holy Queen (which can itself be sung in Latin - Salve Regina Caelitum). They probably weren’t betting on people like us scrutinising its musical merits:D

O Sanctissima is a very interesting hymn. At different stages I have come across about six different versions of it - the only verse they all seem to have in common is verse one. The other verses that I use are:

Tu solacium et refugium,
Virgo, Mater Maria!
Quidquid optamus, per te speramus,
Ora, ora pro nobis.

Ecce debiles, perquam flebiles,
Salva nos, O Maria!
Tole languores, sana dolores,
Ora, ora pro nobis.