Settings of Ave Maria

If the Bible is the book that is the most published and read in the world, then “Ave Maria” is likely the text that is most often set to music!

I am working on an “Ave Maria’ project.   You see, it doesn’t matter if one has a funeral or a wedding, people often request “Ave Maria” being sung at those celebrations in the church.  By “Ave Maria”, specifically they mean Franz Schubert’s setting of Ave Maria, though they don’t usually know that there are other settings in the world.  If you have ever “worked” at weddings and funerals in a Catholic church, like the parish priest, you would likely have heard “Ave Maria” being sung once a week on average.  After several years of hearing it, you will be so tired of Schubert’s tune that you will no longer pay attention to the text.  I have known four different settings of Ave Maria for a while. However, I have a hunch that there are more out there if I will only look for them.  As I don’t have a choir at my disposal, I only look into settings of Ave Maria for solo voice.  There are lots of music compositions bearing the title “Ave Maria” for choir of different number of voice parts, settings for duets, settings for instrumental ensemble and piano solo.  However, I think only those pieces with the text of the prayer should be counted as true “Ave Maria”’s.  In fact, some of those pieces might have an alternate title “Angel Salutation”.  There are also some pieces that repeatedly literally set the words “Ave Maria” to music, like Caccini’s Ave Maria, which will only serve as a meditative tool.   I am only interested in those pieces that include the entire prayer.

Originally, I had hoped to be able to find 10 settings so that I can make a recording of a decade of Rosary in songs.  It is my dream to have this recording played at my own visitation and that my guests will be invited to pray a decade of Rosary with me to get me out of purgatory quickly.  However, at this point, I have already collected 16 settings.  Who knows, I might actually be able to record two decades of Rosary in songs! It really is amazing to know that there is such a huge collection of Ave Maria’s out there.  Composers who have worked on this project include Rheinberger, Brahms, Abt, Franck, Gounod, Arcadelt, and, of course, Schubert.  There are also arrangements of the prayer with existing beautiful melodies by Bach, Gounod, Massenet, Mascagni, Donizetti, etc.

I have a little proposal.  Perhaps, if Catholics are shy to talk about Mary, Mother of God in front of other Christians, they can just sing a beautiful song of Ave Maria!  Recently, I was working with my vocal coach on a few settings of Ave Maria’s in a Lutheran church.  The pastor of the Lutheran church actually stopped what he was doing, stayed and listened to the songs.

By the way, singing Ave Maria might also protect you from the Satan. If the recent article on Catholic Exchange website is correct, then Satan does not like the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Of course, the Bible tells us that “[S]he is to crush his head.” According to exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth, it is most effective to use Latin in challenging Satan.  There you have it, singing Ave Maria just might be an effective way to drive away Satan! With so many settings of Ave Maria available, you can have fun while keeping yourself safe too!

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.Benedicta tu in mulieribus,et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

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