What are the lyrics to ‘Ave Maria’, and who wrote it?

27 October 2020, 11:02

Andrea Bocelli singing Ave Maria
Andrea Bocelli singing Ave Maria. Picture: Getty

It’s a humble Catholic prayer, with a simple but incredibly moving tune by Franz Schubert. But who has performed ‘Ave Maria’ and what are the lyrics?

Despite being one of the world’s favourite settings of ‘Ave Maria’, Schubert never actually wrote a piece called ‘Ave Maria’.

Schubert’s music was actually called ‘Ellens dritter Gesang’, which translates as ‘Ellen’s Third Song’. He wrote it in 1825, aged 28, to the words of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem The Lady of the Lake. The song does contain the words ‘Ave Maria’, but only in reference to the prayer itself.

Now one of Schubert’s most popular works, ‘Ave Maria’ has been recorded by numerous artists, with lyrics that largely differ from the original poem.

Andrea Bocelli, Maria Callas and Celine Dion have all recorded beautiful versions, as has the inimitable Luciano Pavarotti:

What are the lyrics to ‘Ave Maria’?

Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus
Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus
Et benedictus fructus ventris
Ventris tuae, Jesus.
Ave Maria

Ave Maria
Mater Dei
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Ora pro nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Nunc et in hora mortis
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Ave Maria

English translation:

Hail Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Hail, Hail, the Lord.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed,
Blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Thy womb, Jesus.
Hail Mary!

Hail Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Pray, pray for us;
Pray, pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death,
The hour of our death
The hour of our death,
The hour of our death
Hail Mary.