"Ave Maria" is one of the best known and beloved pieces of Christian religious music.
The version written by Franz Schubert is widely sung at Catholic masses and other Christian religious ceremonies: and its text is a literal translation into Latin of the famous "Hail Mary" prayer.
The "Hail Mary" prayer is itself the chief Catholic prayer to the Virgin Mary, the mother of the Christian God.
The text is said to be a direct quote from the Archangel Gabriel, when he descends from heaven and appears to the Virgin Mary, telling her she has been blessed to carry the lord, Jesus Christ, within her womb.
The "Hail Mary" text is found in the New Testament of the Judeo-Christian Bible, in the book of Luke, chapter 1, verse 28.
Like most books in the New Testament, Luke was originally written in Koine Greek, a language common to the diaspora Christian communities in the eastern Mediterranean.
The prayer's eventual evolution into Latin began nearly 1,000 years ago and likely took 500 or more years to reach its current form. Blessed art thou among women,and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,pray for us sinners,now and in the hour of our death. The Ave Maria is one of the most recognizable and well-known prayers throughout the western world, known to many people who are not Christian or religious at all.
Its content inspired leagues of composers and musicians to write some of their most memorable works.
Below is a handful of the most famous of the Ave Maria compositions that are heard throughout the world.
It was arranged in three versions for piano by Franz Liszt.
It has become one of Schubert's most popular works, recorded by a wide variety and large number of singers, under the title of Ave Maria (after Ellen's song, which is a prayer to the Virgin Mary), in arrangements with various lyrics which commonly differ from the original context of the poem.