Ave Maria, gratia plena,
benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
Click here for an English translation.
This sublime hymn has been sung for centuries in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is good to sing hymns to her praise, as that is very pleasing to Our Lord. He loved His mother dearly, and so we who are supposed to imitate Him must love her too. This hymn is sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, or other occasions where a Marian hymn is called for. It can be also be used during the Mass (such as at the Offertory, Communion, etc.).
This is the Latin form of the Hail Mary, the most popular Catholic prayer. As you may know, the first half of the Hail Mary comes right from Scripture, when the angel Gabriel saluted Mary and asked her consent to be the Mother of God. Few hymns can rival the Ave Maria for this reason alone -- no one competes with the Holy Spirit for sublimity of lyrics!
Since it is so exalted, it is no surprise that there are countless melodies for these same lyrics. There are dozens of classical pieces, and several Gregorian chant versions. There are beautiful polyphonic versions out there as well.
This is found on the following CD(s):
Chant Compendium 1.
Return to Gregorian Chant Lyrics page