Did you know that the music for one of the most famous songs in the world, Ave Maria, was never actually composed for it?


In 1825, Schubert actually had another poem in mind when he wrote the music to what we now know as Ave Maria. Walter Scott's The Lady of the Lake was the intended text, and while it does open with the words Ave Maria! maiden mild, it is no longer the text we think of when we hear the song. Perhaps this shared opening was what prompted singers and arrangers in the years after Schubert's death to consider setting the ancient Catholic prayer to Schubert's music instead, creating the version we've come to recognise.

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 (tui),
Ventris tui, Jesus.
Ave Maria!

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Ora, ora pro nobis;
Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc et in hora mortis,
In hora mortis nostrae.
In hora, hora mortis nostrae,
In hora mortis nostrae.
Ave Maria!

What are the lyrics to 'Ave Maria' in English?

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!

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

Want to play 'Ave Maria'? Buy the sheet music below

The best recordings of 'Ave Maria'

Marian Anderson and Kosti Vehanen
Let Freedom Ring!

Irmgard Seefried, Erik Werba
The Art of Irmgard Seefried, Vol. 4
Eloquence ELQ4807230

Renée Fleming, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Andreas Delfs
Sacred Songs
Decca 4756450

Read our reviews of the latest Schubert recordings here


Find out more about Schubert and his works here