“Ave Maria, gratia plena”

“Ave Maria, gratia plena” December 11, 2019

 

Ossawa Tanner's Annunciation
Henry Ossawa Tanner, “The Annunciation” (1898)
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

In this clip, the all-male a cappella vocal group Chanticleer performs what I, at least, consider to be one of the most achingly, exquisitely beautiful pieces of music ever composed, Franz Biebl’s 1964 setting of “Ave Maria”:

 

 

V. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ.
R. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.

V. Maria dixit: Ecce Ancilla Domini.
R. Fiat mihi secundum Verbum tuum.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.

 

My translation:

 

The angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary,

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.

 

Mary said, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.

Let it be unto me according to thy word.”

 

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.

 

There is horrifying evil, hatred, and ugliness in the world.  There is death.  There is devastating loss.  But there is also great goodness and beauty.  This piece offers a glimpse and a reminder of that.  In fact, at certain moments in Biebl’s Ave Maria, I find it extremely difficult to understand how anybody can doubt that God exists.

 

***

 

My wife is in Europe at the moment — in Kraków, Poland, I believe — with several neighborhood ladies, so I went to the annual Christmas party of the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages on my own tonight.  First time to go alone.  Not surprisingly, the cuisine was Chinese.  (Our choices are, well, either Asian or Near Eastern.)  It’s really good to work in a department where we all get along.  I’ve knocked about in the academic world enough to know that such collegiality can’t simply be taken for granted.  College interactions can, in fact, be unbelievably harsh and rough.  Henry Kissinger is commonly credited with a statement that he didn’t actually originate:  “The politics of the university are so intense because the stakes are so low.”  My department is a really good place to be.

 

 


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!