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About Schubert's "Ave Maria"

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Title Composer Description View or Listen Date Posted
Ave Maria Schubert Voice and guitar
Arr. Reinhold Jentsch.  From Deutsches Lautenlied, 1916
mus  pdf  mid  mp3  xml 2009-04-06,
2005-09-01

Title: "Ave Maria"

Composer: Franz Schubert.  Words: Sir Walter Scott

History

Franz Schubert (1797-1829) wrote the music for "Ave Maria" in 1825 as a setting for words by Scottish author Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832).

Sir Walter Scott Click to enlarge (644kb)

In 1810, Scott published his long narrative poem, The Lady of the Lake.  This work describes a fictional struggle in the sixteenth-century between several Scottish Highland clans, some loyal to King James V of Scotland, and some not.  The beautiful young heroine, Ellen Douglas, is forced to hide out in a mountain cave, along with her father, James Douglas.  In that cave, she sings a song, "Hymn to the Virgin", a prayer to the Virgin Mary for help and comfort.  This song occurs in Canto 3 of The Lady of the Lake, stanza 29.

Philip Adam Storck translated The Lady of the Lake into German in a book published in Essen, 1819.  Storck's translation then became the basis for Schubert's book of songs, Liederzyklus vom Fräulein vom See (Song Cycle Of "The Lady Of The Lake"), composed in 1825.  There the "Ave Maria" song is called "Ellens dritter Gesang" ("Ellen's Third Song").  An edition of the songs set to both the German words by Storck and to Scott's original English words was published in 1826 as Schubert's Op. 52, under the title Sieben Gesänge aus Walter Scotts Fräulein vom See (Seven Songs from Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake).  This was, financially, one of Schubert's more successful projects.  The publisher paid him 20 pounds sterling, a nice fee in those days.

Schubert's "Ave Maria" is one of the most popular songs in the world, although often sung to words different from those of Schubert/Storck/Scott, or performed in instrumental versions with no words at all.  The arrangement on this website by Reinhold Jentsch for voice and guitar is a sure crowd-pleaser.  If no singer is on hand, get a violinist to play the voice part.  By the end of the song there won't be a dry eye in the house.

Text

 

Ave Maria
By Sir Walter Scott
Translated into German by
Philip Adam Storck

Ave Maria (Hymn To the Virgin)
By Sir Walter Scott


1 Ave Maria!  Jungfrau mild
  Erhöre einer Jungfrau Flehen,
Aus diesem Felsen starr und wild
  Soll mein Gebet zu dir hinwehen.
Wir schlafen sicher bis zum Morgen,
  Ob Menschen noch so grausam sind.
O Jungfrau, sieh der Jungfrau Sorgen,
  O Mutter hör' dein bittend Kind!
Ave Maria!


Ave Maria ! maiden mild !
  Listen to a maiden’s prayer !
Thou canst hear though from the wild,
  Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
  Though banished, outcast, and reviled—
Maiden ! hear a maiden’s prayer;
  Mother, hear a suppliant child !
Ave Maria !

2 Ave Maria!  Unbefleckt!
  Wenn wir auf diesen Fels hinsinken
Zum Schlaf, und uns dein Schutz bedeckt,
  Wird weich der harte Fels uns dünken.
Du lächelst, Rosendüfte wehen
  In dieser dumpfen Felsenkluft.
O Mutter, höre Kindesflehen,
  O Jungfrau, eine Jungfrau ruft!
Ave Maria!.

Ave Maria !  undefiled !
  The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem with down of eider piled,
  If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern’s heavy air
  Shall breathe of balm if thou has smiled;
Then, Maiden ! hear a maiden’s prayer,
  Mother, list a suppliant child !
Ave Maria !

3 Ave Maria!  Reine Magd!
  Der Erde und der Luft Dämonen,
Von deines Auges Huld verjagt,
  Sie können hier nicht bei uns wohnen.
Wir woll'n uns still dem Schicksal beugen,
  Da uns dein heiliger Trost anweht;
Der Jungfrau wolle hold dich neigen,
  Dem Kind, das für den Vater fleht!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria !  stainless styled !
  Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
  Shall flee before thy presence fair.
We bow us to our lot of care,
  Beneath thy guidance reconciled:
Hear for a maid a maiden’s prayer,
  And for a father hear a child !
Ave Maria !

Remarks

Some consider it incorrect to use "Ave Maria" as the title to this song, preferring to use Schubert's own title, "Ellens dritter Gesang" ("Ellen's third Song"), since the song was originally not a setting of the traditional "Ave Maria Gratia plena.." prayer of the Catholic church.  However, Sir Walter Scott's words contain references to that Latin prayer, and many settings of the Latin prayer using Schubert's music are in constant use worldwide.  This music will always be known as "Schubert's Ave Maria"!

See Also

This Daisyfield.com website also has information and free downloads related to the other great setting of "Ave Maria": Gounod's.

References

Duncan, Edmondstoune, Schubert (biography), E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1905 (281 pages), pp. 141-143, in books.google.com.  [See pp. 141-143].

Scott, Sir Walter, The Complete Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, Cambridge Edition, ed. Horace E. Scudder, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1900, (582 pages).  ["Hymn to the Virgin": p. 180, lines 713-740. Image of Sir Walter Scott: frontispiece.].

W. Werckmeister (1873-?), editor, Deutsches Lautenlied, A. Köster Verlag, Berlin, 1916 edition.  ["Ave Maria": pp. 604-606].

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