Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A medieval Latin hymn on the sorrows of the Virgin Mary at the Crucifixion.
  • n. A musical setting for this hymn.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A celebrated Latin hymn, beginning with these words, commemorating the sorrows of the mother of our Lord at the foot of the cross. It is read in the Mass of the Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, and is sung by Catholics when making “the way of the cross” (Via Crucis). See station, 7 (c).

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In the Rom. Cath. liturgy, a sequence on the Virgin Mary at the crucifixion, written about 1300 by Jacobus de Benedictis (Jacopone da Todi).
  • n. A musical setting of this sequence. Famous examples have been written by Palestrina, Pergolesi, Rossini, Dvořák, and others.
  • n. A sequence regarding the Virgin Mary in contemplation of the infant Jesus. It first appeared in 1495, but has not been incorporated into a regular liturgy. It is more fully known as the Stabat Mater speciosa, to distinguish it from the Stabat Mater dolorosa (see def. 1).
  • n. A musical setting of this Christmas sequence, as in Liszt's “Christus.”

Etymologies

From Medieval Latin Stābat Māter (dolōrōsa), the Mother was standing (full of sorrow), the first words of the hymn : Latin stābat, third person sing. imperfect tense of stāre, to stand + Medieval Latin Māter, Mother (of God).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

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