Angelus Ad Virginem
For The Annunciation
Words: Anonymous 13th or 14th Century Latin
A Partial Translation
Meter: 77 77 88 11 6 7 6
1. Angelus ad virginem
Subintrans in conclave.
Demulcens inquit "Ave."
Ave regina virginum,
Tu porta coeli facta
2. Quomodo conciperem,
quae virum non cognovi?
quae firma mente vovi?
'Spiritus sancti gratia
Perficiet haec omnia;
Manebit in te pura
3. Ad haec virgo nobilis
Respondens inquit ei;
Ancilla sum humilis
Tibi coelesti nuntio,
Tanta secreti conscio,
factum quod audio,
Parata sum parere
4. Angelus disparuit
Vi partus salutaris.
Qui, circumdatus utero
Novem mensium numero,
Crucem, qua dedit ictum
5. Eia Mater Domini,
Quae pacem reddidisti
Angelis et homini,
Cum Christum genuisti;
Tuem exora filium
Ut se nobis propitium
Vita frui beta
Post hoc exsilium.
Translations and adaptations include, but are not limited to:
Angel Gabriel, The (Alternative Title: The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came)
Angel Gabriel From God, The (The Angel Gabriel From God, Sandys, 1833, and Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed., The Oxford Book of Ballads, 1910.)
Gabriel From Heaven-King (Middle English)
Gabriel From Heaven's King (Angelus Ad Virginem, Gerald Manley Hopkins)
Gabriel To Mary Came (John Macleod Campbell Crum, 1932)
Gabriel To Mary Came (Elizabeth Poston, copyright 1965)
Gabriel To Mary Came (Pickard-Cambridge)
Gabriel To Mary Went (Rev. J. O'Connor)
Gabriel's Message (Sabine Baring-Gould) Alternate Titles: The Angel Gabriel and The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came; First Line: "The angel Gabriel from heaven came"
See also The Magnificat.
The cheerfully sounding song about the Annunciation, Angelus ad Virginem or, in its English form, Gabriel, From Heven King Was To The Maide Sende, was a popular Medieval carol that is still popular today. The text of this song is a poetic version of Hail Mary, full of dramatic tension and theological profundity.
It appeared in an Dublin Troper (c. 1361, a music book for use at Mass) and was found in a Sequentiale (Vellum manuscript, 13th or 14th century), possibly connected with the Church of Addle, Yorks. This lyric also appears in the works of John Audelay, in a group of four Marian poems. Audelay may have been a priest; he spent the last years of his life at Haghmond, an Augustinian abbey, and wrote for the monks there.
It is said to have originally consisted of 27 stanzas, with each following stanza beginning with the consecutive letter of the alphabet.
Chaucer mentions it in his Miller's Tale, where poor scholar Nicholas sang it in Latin to the accompaniment of his psaltery:
And over all there lay a psaltery
Whereon he made an evening's melody,
Playing so sweetly that the chamber rang;
And Angelus ad virginem he sang;
And after that he warbled the King's Note:
Often in good voice was his merry throat.
Both the Oxford Book of Carols and, especially, the New Oxford Book of Carols contain musical settings and additional historical notes.
In addition to the translations provided, there is the translation by John Macleod Campbell Crum, 1932, which is reproduced as #547 in Hymn Ancient & Modern, Revised.
Earthly Delights: Xmas Carols
This carol is mentioned by Chaucer in his late 14th century Miller's Tale, when he describes how the poor scholar Nicholas of Oxford, kept by his lonely bed a sautry,
'On which he made a nightes melodye
So sweetly, that all the chambre rong,
And Angelus ad virginem he song.'
The carol was probably Franciscan in original and brought to Britain by French friars in the 13th century. There is a 14th Irish source for the latin version and, from the same period, a middle-English version which begins:
Gabriel fram Heven-King / Sent to the Maide sweete,
Broute hir blisful tiding / And fair he gan hir greete:
'Heil be thu, ful of grace aright! / For Godes Son, this Heven Light,
For mannes love / Will man bicome /And take / Fles of thee,
Maide bright, / Manken free for to make / Of sen and devles might.'
The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols' translation of the first stanza of the latin version is:
'The angel, coming secretly to the Virgin calming the Virgin's fear, said: 'hail! Hail, Queen of Virgins! You shall conceive the Lord of Heaven and Earth and give birth, remaining a virgin, to the Salvation of mankind; you, made the Gateway of Heaven, the cure for sin'.