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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Angelus ad Virginem, Arr. Barnaby Smith

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

About the Music

Probably Franciscan in origin, the Carol, Angelus ad Virginem, was brought to Britain by French friars in the 13th century. It is said to have originally consisted of 27 stanzas, with each following stanza beginning with the consecutive letter of the alphabet. Surviving manuscripts may be found in a c. 1360 [1] Dublin Troper (a music book for use at Mass) and a 13th or 14th century vellum Sequentiale that may have been connected with the Church of Addle, Yorkshire. Its lyrics also appear in the works of John Audelay (perhaps a priest, he definitely spent the last years of his life at Haughmond Abbey, where he wrote for the monks), in a group of four Marian poems. It is also mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's Miller's Tale (c. 1390), where the scholar Nicholas sings it in Latin to the accompaniment of his psaltery. Learn more about the background of this carol here.

The Text

Angelus ad virginem subintrans in conclave, Virginis formidinem de mulces inquit, “Ave! Ave, regina virginum; coeli terraeque Dominum Concipies et paries inctacta salutem hominum; Tu porta coeli facta,medela criminum” “Quomodo conciperem quae virum non cognovi? Qualiter infringerem quod firmamente vovi?” “Spiritus Sancti gratia perfici et haec omnia; Ne timeas, sed gaudeas, secura Quod castimonia manebit inter pura Dei potentia.” Ad haec virgo nobilis respondet inquit ei: “Ancilla sum humilis omnipotentis Dei. Tibi coelesti nuntio, tanti secreti conscio, Consentiens, et cupiens videre Factum quod audio; parata sum parere, Dei consilio.” Eia mater Domini, quae pacem redidisti Angelis et homini, cum Christum genuisti; Tuum ex ora filium ut se nobis propitium Exhibeat, et deleat, peccata: Prestans auxilium vita frui beata Post hoc exilium.


An angel came to The Virgin slipping into her room To calm the Virgin's fear, he said, "Hail! Hail, Queen Of Virgins; you will conceive The Lord of Heaven and Earth You shalt concieve, and bear, still a virgin, to be the salvation of men; You will become the gate of heaven, the cure of sins."

"How can I conceive, When I have not known a man? How can I break promises that I have vowed with a determined mind?" "The grace of the Holy Spirit shall do all this. Do not be afraid, but rejoice without worry, for your chastity Will remain in you unspoiled through the power of God."

To this, the noble Virgin, responded, saying to him, "I am a humble servant of Almighty God. To you, heavenly messenger, bearer of this a great secret, And consenting I long to see it. I hear what will happen and will obey God's intention."

O Mother Of God you have restored peace To the angels and to men, with Christ whom you will bear; Your son shall speak out and show himself benevolent to us Revealing this, he will wipe away our sins; Giving support to enjoy a blessed life after that exile.

The Musicians

The British vocal ensemble VOCES8 is proud to inspire people through music and share the joy of singing. The group is now launching the VOCES8 Digital Academy, an online choral program for high schools and colleges featuring live interaction with members of the ensemble, live and recorded lectures, and video resources to learn and perform music from the renaissance to today.

Learn more about the making of this album here.


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