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I was preparing Ave Maria for a church service and thought this info might be useful for other musicians. Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” was originally a prayer from a frightened girl and called “Ellen’s Song III” and not intended for liturgical services. However, the music was instantly inspirational to listeners, so Latin text was substituted in time to make it suitable for church services.
The original lyrics were in English, a poem called “Lady of the Lake” by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). The original English was translated into German by Adam Storck D 839 (Spring 1825) First Published in 1826 as Op. 52, No. 6. – It was the German words that Schubert used for his original. Later the Ellen’s Song III (Ave Maria as we know it today) had the latin text forced on it, which works ok in most parts, with a couple unnatural places. Like most of Schubert’s lieder (like Die Schonemullerin), this German lieder was originally scored for just piano and voice.
ABOUT SCHUBERT’S AVE MARIA:
The Ave Maria was composed in about 1825 by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) when he was twenty-eight years old and filled with devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was written for voice and piano and first Published in 1826 as Op 52 no 6. The words most commonly used with Schubert’s music are not the words that the composer originally set to music. Franz Schubert actually wrote the music for an excerpt from the poem “The Lady of the Lake” by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), which was translated into German by Adam Storck. Schubert called his piece Ellens dritter Gesang (Ellen’s third song). In this particular excerpt from the poem the heroine, Ellen Douglas, is in hiding and prays to the Virgin Mary. A letter from Schubert to his father and step-mother refers to his music to Ave Maria:“My new songs from Scott’s Lady of the Lake especially had much success. They also wondered greatly at my piety, which I expressed in a hymn to the Holy Virgin and which, it appears, grips every soul and turns it to devotion.”

Ellens Gesang III (Ellen’s Song III [Ave Maria]) Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
Translated by Adam Storck D 839 (Spring 1825) First Published in 1826 as Op. 52, No. 6.

Storck’s translation as set by Schubert
&
Walter Scott’s Original from “The Lady of the Lake”

Ave Maria! Jungfrau mild,
Erhöre einer Jungfrau Flehen,
Aus diesem Felsen starr und wild
Soll mein Gebet zu dir hinwehen.
Wir schlafen sicher bis zum Morgen,
Ob Menschen noch so grausam sind.
O Jungfrau, sieh der Jungfrau Sorgen,
O Mutter, hör ein bittend Kind!

Ave Maria! Ave Maria! maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden’s prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild,
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish’d, outcast and reviled –
Maiden! hear a maiden’s prayer;
Mother, hear a suppliant child!

Ave Maria!
Ave Maria! Unbefleckt!
Wenn wir auf diesen Fels hinsinken
Zum Schlaf, und uns dein Schutz bedeckt
Wird weich der harte Fels uns dünken.
Du lächelst, Rosendüfte wehen
In dieser dumpfen Felsenkluft,
O Mutter, höre Kindes Flehen,
O Jungfrau, eine Jungfrau ruft!

Ave Maria! Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem this down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern’s heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, Maiden! hear a maiden’s prayer;
Mother, list a suppliant child!

Ave Maria!
Ave Maria! Reine Magd!
Der Erde und der Luft Dämonen,
Von deines Auges Huld verjagt,
Sie können hier nicht bei uns wohnen,
Wir woll’n uns still dem Schicksal beugen,
Da uns dein heil’ger Trost anweht;
Der Jungfrau wolle hold dich neigen,
Dem Kind, das für den Vater fleht.

Ave Maria! Ave Maria! stainless styled!
Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall flee before thy presence fair.
We bow us to our lot of care,
Beneath thy guidence reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden’s prayer,
And for a father hear a child!
Ave Maria!

The German text that Schubert set to music is not a perfect translation, but a fairly close one. The Lied may have first been performed at the home of Sophie Weissenwolff (1794-1847), who made it clear that she would like the dedication, and she received it. Countess Weissenwolff subsequently became known as “the lady of the lake.”

*****************

AVE MARIA LATIN TEXT

Ave Maria Prayer : The Latin text of the Ave Maria prayer
set to the music by Franz Schubert Ave Maria Gratia plena

LATIN TEXT FIRST VERSE:
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum;
benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus [Christus].
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

LATIN-ENGLISH TRANSLATION – 1st Verse
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum;
benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus [Christus].
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

***********************************

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

Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus
Dominus tecum

Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus
Et benedictus fructus ventris
Ventris tui Jesus

Ave Maria
Ave Maria Mater dei
Ora pro nobis pecatoribus
Ora, ora pro nobis
Ora ora pro nobis pecatoribus

Nunc et in hora mortis
In hora mortis, mortis nostrae
In hora mortis nostrae
Ave Maria!

*********************
Here is an introduction to the piece you might use in a church service:

In 1825 a young composer wrote a song called “Ellen’s Song Number Three”. The song was a prayer to Mary and so well received, the young composer wrote to his parents:

“My new songs…..especially had much success. They also wondered greatly at my piety, which I expressed in a hymn to the Holy Virgin and which, it appears, grips every soul and turns it to devotion.â€?

The composer died young at the age of 31. After his death Latin lyrics were replaced on the song for performance in a liturgical setting. The composer’s name was Franz Schubert, and “Ellen’s Song Number Three” is known to us today as “Ave Maria”.

The Latin translated reads as follows:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus [Christ].
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

UPDATE 02/07 – Have questions about playing the Ave Maria during a Catholic wedding, church service or Mass? Read more info about Ave Maria in Catholic Mass and church services.

42 Responses to “Ave Maria lyrics – Franz Schubert”

  1. clarise55@yahoo.com says:

    I have been looking on the internet for about two hours for they lyrics in German to Ave Maria. Your site here is exactly what I was looking for. You gave history as well on the music. I am so impressed that you took your time to compile all this. Thank you for making my day.

  2. askland says:

    Great! Glad you found it helpful. I had the same experience which is why I compiled the info musicians would need into one place. :)

  3. jacky says:

    Oh,what a beautiful blog! I like it very much!

  4. fe taylor says:

    Dear Sir,
    Ihave been searching for the lyrics for the ave maria song in latin because i would like my neice to make a tape with her singing it to be a gift for her grandmother. can you give an idea where to order a tape of it?
    will appreciate your response. Thank you in advance.
    fe taylor

  5. askland says:

    Hi fe taylor,
    The Ave Maria is most commonly performed in Latin. It\’s become more popular than the original German – It will usually only be sung in German if it\’s part of the song cycle Die Schone Mullerin – which it comes from.

    So almost any popular vocalist will be singing it in Latin – try a site like Amazon dot com and search \”ave maria\” – you can get the CD by Andrea Bocelli – I also see a CD of wedding favorites and would give you 99.9% odds that any Ave Maria version on a wedding CD is in Latin. Just make sure it has vocals, not an instrumental CD which most would be.

  6. Karen says:

    Dear sir,
    I have been searching exaustively for history on Bach’s Ave Maria, and have not been succesful.
    Please any information you could give as will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you in advance.

  7. askland says:

    Hi Karen,
    I posted some more info for you here:
    http://www.conradaskland.com/blog/?p=725

  8. Tony says:

    Great post! Just the info I was looking for.

    I am getting married in a Catholic ceremony in a few months, and my soon to be wife had the idea of me singing Ave Maria during the ceremony as she presents Mary with flowers. In my searching the intarwebs, I came across someone who posted that Ave Maria is rarely sung by tenors and practically never by baritones.

    My questions are:

    1. Is this really true?
    2. Is it inappropriate for a male to sing Ave Maria due to the original context of the lyrics?
    3. If it is, does it even matter these days because it is more widely known in it’s Latin incarnation?
    4. Is it ok for me to actually do that? (by “that” I mean do the singing during the ceremony while my wife does her thing with Mary)

    Thanks for any help you can throw my way. I’ll be subscribing to your RSS feeds!

  9. [...] Â This question about the Ave Maria by Franz Schubert is in reference to my previous Ave Maria Lyrics post. [...]

  10. [...] can read my original Ave Maria post on the background of Schubert’s Ave Maria, then follow up and Read the Ave Maria Catholic perspective by clicking here. This post was [...]

  11. Donna Kane says:

    Probably the most beautiful words I have ever heard…and will ever hear.

  12. j w says:

    The most beautiful version of Ave Maria I have heard , is sung by Nana Mouskouri. You should check it out. You will know what i mean when you hear it.

  13. karu says:

    Great! :D
    thanks …
    Ave maria ^^
    thanks!
    so much!

  14. Christine Anne says:

    I have been practising Ave Maria to sing soprano at my Uncle’s wedding this weekend. Thanks for helping me giving me the lyrics in English so I can understand more what I’m singing. Giving me a history of the composer and how Ave Maria came about were also helpful.

  15. Francois says:

    Hi there Conrad, like with my predecessors, my version is no different. Can you maybe tell me who the well known sopranos are who performed this piece (Ave Maria) by Schubert in German? I have a mp3 recording by a soprano not knowing her name. It is so beautifully done. Thank you for the info though.

  16. Henri Stryd says:

    I googled for Jungfrau Maria which is an opera aria out of the opera named: Allesandro Stradella, composed by an von Flotto, as far as I know a very unknown composer. but since he is a German that might mean that his compositions are not very well known here in Canada.
    A got nothing but Ave Maria answers but this is a completely different composition.
    This name I got from Rolando Villazon’s biography.
    Can anybody help me with the text and/or the translation?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Beyonce just did this song on her latest album.
    her lyrics are completly different…

  18. C. DeSilva says:

    this is great information and i am truly fond of ave maria by schubert as well as the one by the celebrated bach-gounod.
    forgive my mundane question but is there anyone who can give me the words of a much less ‘classical’ ave maria that i used to hear on the radio in the seventies. There even was a trumpet version. ALl i remember are the words “the joy of living, is in the giving, se we give our love, ave maria”.
    i need these words for a wedding mass to be had after lent 2009. if anyone is kind enough to supply me the words please *post them here*
    Clifford De Silva, Navelim, Goa, India.

  19. Daisy says:

    I was expecting a ‘complete’ translation for Ave Maria and instead got some incomplete offerings. There are still several lines to be translated. Do you know where I can get the translation of the Latin words in a complete version?
    I appreciate the work/research you have done. I found the background very interesting but do have to move on to find a complete translation as I saw more lines in latin that were left untranslated… OR am I missing something on your page?
    What I got was the verb that gets said with the rosary beads. Nothing more.. but the song goes on for quite a while.. Thanks for your help in finding the whole thing.
    Daisy

  20. Janet says:

    this is an absolutely lovely song, the best song I’d ever heard in my life. Thanks for providing the german lyrics and translation.

  21. Jon says:

    Does anyone know who wrote the Latin lyrics?

  22. Jasmine says:

    Hey ur site was good man… as i wan looking for the synopsis for tis song…..THanks!!!!!

  23. Caio Batista da Silva says:

    I was looking forward to seeking this lyric in German.

  24. askland says:

    Hmmmm…..the German lyrics are the last part of this post.

  25. manos says:

    Incredible music indeed. I had heard the excerpt on the radio many years ago. fortunately I managed to record it on tape. then I was searching for that version for a long time until I found it on youtube titled rather awkardly. from the comments I found it is sung by barbara bonney. you can find it here:

  26. Pam says:

    Is there any way to download the music to Ave Maria. I have to sing this for a wedding in German. Thanks for the website.

  27. Roger A says:

    Pryaing to a dead lady makes my stomach sick.

  28. askland says:

    Theology aside, it is an unquestionably beautiful song. With it’s lyrics correctly spelled. :)

  29. Gordon St Onge says:

    Thank You very much for the info on your blog it was much appreciated A tenor however did indeed perform the Ave Maria but has passed away Mario Lanza did a very moving version//Again thank You

  30. KAREN RAGO says:

    DEAR FRANZ SCHUBERT,
    I LOVE YOUR LITERGICAL SONG ENTITLED “AVE MARIA” I AM SORRY THAT IT WAS NOT IN GERMAN UNTIL YOU HAD THE ENGLISH TRANSLATED INTO GERMAN.
    YOURS TRULY,
    KAREN RAGO

  31. askland says:

    I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere, I just don’t know where it is. The information in the previous post is entirely wrong.

  32. craig says:

    My dad’s favorite song. It was sung at his funeral and when the lights flickered in the church we knew dad was enjoying it!It gave him goose bumps and now it does for me

  33. lynda says:

    im 54 years old, and have always thot that this ws a beautiful hymn to our blessed mother, not realizing that it was part of a play. will wonders ever cease.

  34. Dallas Opera’s ‘Anna Bolena’ a Feast for Vocalists | Art&Seek | Arts, Music, Culture for North Texas says:

    [...] to a German translation from Scott’s The Lady of the Lake. A history of the lyrics can be found here. The Lady of the Lake also was the source of Rossini’s opera La Donna del Lago. Lucia di [...]

  35. Musikgirl says:

    Although the translation is fairly good, Its not Shubert’s but Gounod’s that’s why some parts appear like missing or not in the song. Here it is:

    Ave Maria Hail Mary
    Gratia plena Full of grace
    Maria, gratia plena Mary full of grace
    Maria, gratia plena Mary full of grace
    Ave, ave dominus Hail, hail the Lord
    Dominus tecum The Lord is with you
    Benedicta tu in mulieribus Blessed are you among women
    Et benedictus Blessed is
    Et benedictus fructus ventris Blessed is the fruit of womb
    Ventris tuae, Jesus. Your womb, Jesus
    Ave Maria Hail Mary

    Ave Maria Hail Mary
    Mater Dei Mother of God
    Ora pro nobis peccatoribus Pray for us sinners
    Ora pro nobis Pray for us
    Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus Pray, pray for us sinners
    Nunc et in hora mortis Now and in the time of death
    Et in hora mortis nostrae In our death time(hour)
    Et in hora mortis nostrae In our death time (hour)
    Et in hora mortis nostrae In our death time (hour)
    Ave Maria Hail Mary

    The second verse is most of the times ommited at weddings
    but performed in funerals.

    Hail Mary.

  36. ray says:

    It’s makes me sad that ave maria is being sang here in the Philippines almost exclusively during funerals… :(

  37. Jorge says:

    The translation into English is terrible.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I’ve beeing searching for the Ave Maria Lyrics sung by Gianluca Ginoble from the Trio Il Volo. Can you help?

  39. [...] Ave Maria lyrics — Franz Schubert [...]

  40. vidhi desai says:

    WONDERFUL… And finally! Thanks for the trouble

    If there were references that would be wonderful! But overall – i can finally find a SINGLE place with all relevant information and versions of the AVE MARIA!

  41. Ida LaPrairie says:

    Perry Como has a wonderful version of Ave Maria.

  42. Robert says:

    I would like to purchase a CD of Schubert’s Ave Maria in German.
    Can you suggest where I might find this? Music stores in my area have not been able to assist me.

    Thank you!

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