“Ave Maria” by Franz Schubert

When I was a young girl, I came into possession of a Christmas record (those old vinyl things) called “The Great Songs of Christmas, Album Three.” On it was a recording of the most beautiful violin performance I had ever heard: Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria, performed by virtuoso Isaac Stern.

Though not necessarily a Christmas carol, Schubert’s Ave Maria is still my favorite. It makes me very emotional to hear it these days, as it was one of my mother’s favorite songs.

I eventually taught myself to play this piece – by ear. It’s a difficult arrangement, and I doubt that I gave it a very good treatment. But I was happy to finally be able to play it for my mother for Christmas.


Here are the lyrics, in Latin:

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 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!

English Translation:

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! 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! 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 guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden’s prayer,
And for a father hear a child!
Ave Maria!

Here’s the great Luciano Pavarotti singing the Latin version:

Finally, violinist Joshua Bell, whose version is very similar to the Isaac Stern rendition I loved as a child:

The Great Songs of Christmas By the Great Artists of Our Time, Album Three. LP Record. Columbia Special Products and Stanley Arnold & Assoc. with Norfolk Productions, Inc. 1965.

Written for footnoteMaven’s Come Celebrate The Tradition of Blog Caroling.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O’Neal

Elizabeth is a professional genealogist and California native living in the Santa Barbara area. She has been researching her own family for almost three decades, and providing research services to others for about 8 years.

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