A couple of weeks back in this Year of Faith series I looked at the Ave Maria - that done we can now look at some of the prayers that employ it, starting today with the Angelus.
A lost tradition?
Despite the fact that the Angelus was commended by both Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, it has largely died out in most places (though being revived in schools in some dioceses at least).
Yet this beautiful prayer celebrating the Incarnation is traditionally prayed (outside of Eastertide) when the Church bell tolls three times at 6am, noon and 6pm.
The current form of the Angelus dates back to the seventeenth century, but the idea of praying three Hail Mary's at these times was a widespread practice from the eleventh century onwards. The morning prayer originates in monastic practice, with the ringing of the bell for Prime; the lunchtime invocation was introduced by Pope Callistus III (1455-1458) as a prayer for protection against the Turkish invasions of his time (and could readily be modernised as a prayer against modern day Islamic terrorism), while the evening prayer was originally introduced in support of the Crusades (for the protection of pilgrim access to the Holy Land).
The text of the Angelus as given the Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church is as follows:
Ángelus Dómini nuntiávit Maríæ.
Et concépit de Spíritu Sancto.
Ecce ancílla Dómini.
Fiat mihi secúndum verbum tuum.
Et Verbum caro factum est.
Et habitávit in nobis.
Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei génetrix.
Ut digni efficiámur promissiónibus Christi.
Grátiam tuam, quæsumus,
Dómine, méntibus nostris infúnde;
ut qui, Ángelo nuntiánte,
Christi Fílii tui incarnatiónem cognóvimus,
per passiónem eius et crucem,
ad resurrectiónis glóriam perducámur.
Per eúndem Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.
You can hear it said aloud in Latin here.
And the translation given in the Compendium is:
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
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 at the hour of our death. Amen.
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray;
Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Through the same Christ, our Lord.
Glory be to the Father...
Looking at the Latin
Here is a word by word literal translation of the invocations:
Ángelus (the angel) Dómini (of the Lord) nuntiávit (declared) Maríæ (to Mary).
Et (and) concépit (she conceived) de (of) Spíritu (the Spirit) Sancto (Holy).
Ecce (Behold) ancílla (the handmaid) Dómini (of the Lord).
Fiat (Let it be done) mihi (to me) secúndum (according to) verbum (the word) tuum (your).
Et (And) Verbum (the Word) caro (flesh) factum est (he is made).
Et (and ) habitávit (he dwelt/lived) in (among) nobis (us).
The prayer is normally said, often silently, rather than sung, still, this sung version is rather nice (though you might pray for the reconciliation of the nuns with the Church as they appear to be schismatics!).