21 December 2014

Contemporary version of the Angelic Salutation

While compiling (and editing and re-editing) my Rosary for Anglo-Catholic Use, it dawned on me that the prayers usually accompanying it, whether said in a Roman setting or an Anglican setting,  were in “church” language.  You know what I mean: “thee”, “thou”, “doest”, “beseech”, “hallowed”, “art”, “thy”, “thine”, etc.; what folks call Elizabethan or King James English, just like Shakespeare’s plays and the “Authorized Version” of the Bible.  Roughly equal to mouthing ecclesiastical Latin during an old style Mass and not really feeling what is said in such a foreign sound, no matter how beautiful to the ears.

At around the same time, looking through the histories of some of these prayers, I discovered that many of the better known English language texts were based on translations which left something to be desired.  That, and the fact that there were older, simpler versions of the prayers in early, sometimes obscure manuscripts.

The best way to go about this is, for each prayer in turn, to give the familiar, churchy-language version first, then my revision, followed by an explanation of the changes.

Second up is the Angelic Salutation, also called the Ave Maria and the Hail Mary.

Angelic Salutation

Old,  familiar version (Western):

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst 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 death. Amen.

Old,  familiar version (Eastern):

Hail, Virgin Mary, Mother of God, full of grace, the Lord is with thee:  Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, which gave birth to the Savior of our souls

Updated and revised contemporary English version:


Rejoice, Mary, favored one, for the Lord is with you: Blessed are you among women, Theotokos, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus Christ.


Notes on the Angelic Salutation

1) On the name Angelic Salutation:  This prayer begins with the salutation of the angel, traditionally Gabriel the Archangel, to Mary, betrothed of Joseph.  With less common, this prayer is called Angelic Salutation by some authorities and the reasons for me doing so should be obvious after a minute or two, if not immediately.

2) On “Rejoice, Mary!” vs. “Hail, Mary!”:  The word in the koine Greek original, chaíre, does not mean “hail!” but literally means “rejoice!”.  When Jerome translated the Vulgate, “Chaire Maria” became “Ave Maria”, which does in fact mean “Hail Mary”.  But it is not the original.

3)  On “favored one” vs. “full of grace”: The word in the koine Greek original, kecharitōménē, the present perfect passive voice participle of the verb charitóō, does not mean “full of grace” but “favored one” or “honored one”.  The word kerecharitomene is usually translated “favored one”.

4) On “Jesus Christ” vs. just “Jesus”:  When the name was first added to emphasize the identify of the “fruit of your womb”, it was the name and cognomen, including in the Sarum Use.

5) On “Theotokos” vs. “Mother of God”:  The Greek word Theotokos literally means “Birth-giver to God”.  The Latin counterpart is Mater Deus, which literally means Mother of God and is the usual translation of the term.  In Greek, however, this would be Meter Theou.  Another often used translation is “God-bearer”, but in Greek that is Theophoros.  Why the quibble?  The title Theotokos is the one given Mary the mother of Jesus by the Council of Ephesus in 431.  Since it doesn’t really translate into English well, I think it is better to stand as is.

6) On the absence of “Amen”:  This is absent in all the documents from the sixteenth century, whether missals or primers.

Footnote:  In nineteenth century translations of the Ave Maria, “full of grace” becomes “thou that art highly favored”.

No comments: