Ave Maria Text and English Translation

Ave Maria Original Latin Prayer

Ave Maria prayer
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The origin of the chief Catholic prayer to the Mother of God is a direct quote from the Archangel Gabriel, which can be found in the Bible in Luke chapter 1 verse 28, when he descends from heaven and appears to the Virgin Mary, telling her she has been blessed to carry the lord, Jesus Christ, within her womb. The prayer's nebulous evolution began nearly 1,000 years ago, and likely took 500 or more years to reach its current form (read more about the Ave Maria's history).

Ave Maria Latin Text

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Ave Maria English Translation

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and in the hour of our death. Amen.

Famous Ave Maria Songs and their Composers

No matter what religion you practice or whether or not your religious at all, the Ave Maria is one of the most recognizable and well-known prayers throughout the western world; its content has inspired leagues of composers and musicians to write some of their most beloved works. Just to give you an idea, here are a few of the most famous Ave Maria compositions (which also happen to be my favorite) that you'll likely hear many times throughout your life:

  • Bach/Gounod
    (listen to Diana Damrau perform this piece on YouTube)
    In 1853, French composer, Charles Gounod improvised a melody to Johann Sebastian Bach's Piano Prelude No. 1 in C Major (listen to Bach's Piano Prelude No. 1 on YouTube), which Bach published in 1722 as part of The Well Tempered Clavier - a book of piano music Bach wrote to sell to students interested in learning and perfecting their piano technique.  Gounod's work was originally published for violin/cello with piano and harmonium, but in 1859, after receiving a request from Pierre-Joseph-Guillaume Zimmermann (Gounod's future father-in-law who transcribed Gounod's improvisation) Jacques Léopold Heugel released a vocal version with the melody set to the text of the Ave Maria prayer.
  • Verdi
    (listen to Renee Fleming perform this piece on YouTube)
    This sublime aria is sung in the fourth act of Giuseppe Verdi's opera, Otello, by Desdemona.  Knowing she may die that evening at the hand's of Otello's, Desdemona asks her servant Emilia to prepare her wedding gown with instructions to bury her in it in case she dies that evening.  After Emilia leaves, Desdemona prays to Virgin Mary, asking her to pray for the sinner, the weak, the oppressed, the mighty, the unfortunate, and for them in the hour of their death.