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Schubert, Ave Maria

Listers, the results of Schubert's Ave Maria original language question!

The score (DRUM ROLL PLEASE!):

German Latin = 2 German Translation of English Text = 4**
(see reponses with ** below)

Everyone who responded seemed sure that they had the correct information.
I think somewhere in all the confusion, lies the correct answer. . .
Some specific thoughts and opinions from fellow listers. First, my original

> Simple question: What is the ORIGINAL language of Schubert's Ave Maria? Is
> it German or Latin? I've got both versions and am wanting to perform it as
> Schubert intended, language-wise anyway.

(sorry for the broken lines below, I'm still figuring this stuff out!)

German...without a doubt. After it became popular, others superimposed the
Latin on top of his melody, but it's not the original.

David Topping
ChoralNet Manager


It is a German song for solo soprano, with text translated from a poem of
Watler Scott.
The poem quotes the words "Ave Maria" and goes to to describe the maiden's
It is NOT the "Ave Maria" text used in Catholic services, that was adapted
to the music later.

Richard Slade

**It's a German translation of a poem by Sir Walter Scott. Schubert's
original setting was in German, but the "real" original is in English.
You should probably sing it in German. The Latin is an adaptation
to use the liturgical text.

the original language is Latin - read the title: Is it German?
I´ll try to explain it:
No Schubert work is overwritten with a title in another language
which is used for the text. In a German version (text) Schubert´s title
of Ave Maria would have been translated to: "Gegrüsset seist
Du, Maria" (from Schubert itself!).
"Gegrüsset seist Du, Maria" is the original translation of the
Latin Liturgie, used in the German Christian Church.
You know, Schubert wrote a "German Mass" -
the original title is not "Missa" but "Deutsche Messe".
You can believe that´s true.
Otmar Stangl
Conductor, Germany


**This is a surpisingly interesting topic. The
'original' version Schubert set is a German
translation from the English (!) text by Sir
Walter Scott in "Lady of the Lake", and has
nothing to do the Catholic liturgy. It is a
happy coincidence that the Latin Hail Mary
scans close enough to fit Schubert's melody.

I, too, wanted to sing it in the 'original'
at a wedding until I learned its true
history. The message of "Ellen's Gesang" is
quite different from what I thought was
appropriate for the occasion. See the texts


The ORIGINAL language is GERMAN, but if you want one of the BEST version in
Latin, I'm sending to you my file to ENCORE, version 4.21 or 4.5


Mo. José Carlos Ferrari Jr.
Ferrari Studio
Cursos & Serviços de Música
Fortaleza - Brasil
Original language is German.
The piece is commonly known as "Ave Maria", but the German words are not
suitable for liturgical purposes. In fact it's not a sacred piece at all
(even if it is something like a religious or "pious" secular song or, let's
say a sung prayer). The words are from a German translation of Sir Walter
Scott's "Lady of the Lake", and its original name isn't "Ave Maria" but
"Ellens dritter Gesang" (Ellen's third song), D 839. Furthermore it isn't a
choral piece and no operatic showpiece but a simple Lied for solo voice and
piano accompaniment.

[I've deleted the German text here for the purpose of brevity. I'll will
email them
to you if you'd like, or contact the lister who posted his answer. -Liz

Best wishes,


Thomas Gebhardt

Musick's Handmaide e.V.
Wilhelm-Leuschner-Str. 16
D-50739 Köln
Tel./Fax +49 221 5105011

Collegium Cantorum Köln
GERMAN! He never set the latin prayer. He set a german translation of a
poem by Sir Walter Scott called "Die Heilige Jungfrau." There is a very
good reason that the latin words DON'T FIT the melody. A very cursory
glance at the text underlay bears this out clearly.

The "Hail Mary" (Ave Maria) is an adaptation of the Latin prayer to the
of Schubert. The Original Schubert song is a translation into German of Sir
Walter Scott's poetry. The following may be of interest.
Ellens Gesang III (Ave Maria), D839
I regularly get confused requests from people for details about Schubert's
Ave Maria. The subject is complicated by the fact that what is often
as "Schubert's Ave Maria", and sung by the likes of Perry Como or Val
or fat overpaid Tenors with hankies in their top pockets, is an arrangement,
usually sentimentalised and miles over the top with weeping strings and
harps, etc.
The singer tries to make the tune fit the Ave Maria Latin words (which,
it nearly does). I don't have a recording, I'm pleased to say, and I don't
have the words,
as they bear no resemblance to the words Schubert set. Who first forced this
'setting' I can't
say, and to be honest, I really don't care.
What Schubert actually wrote, he called Ellens dritter Gesang ("Ellen's
third song").
The words are from a German translation of a work by Sir Walter Scott, who
was very popular
all over Europe at the time. The work is "The Lady of the Lake", and
Schubert set
6 or 7 songs from this work, and others by Scott. In this particular scene
Ellen Douglas,
in hiding, prays to the Virgin Mary. Schubert's setting was a simple Lied,
voice with just
piano accompaniment. It's much better than the over-the-top arrangements,
but then I'm
biased. Nevertheless, it does annoy me that the radio shows and record
companies happily
present a distorted view of Schubert's output - how many bother to play the
real Schubert,
or even tell their audience that what they are listening to isn't echt
The real words (and this is true for most Lieder) can be found on Emily
Ezust's Lieder
Texts web site, which, as it happens, I posted: Ellens Gesang III (Ellen's
Song III [Ave Maria])
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) translated by Adam Storck D839 (Spring 1825)
First Published in 1826 as Op 52 no 6.


Schubert's Ave Maria is originally in german. It's a song with a text
different from the latin Ave Maria, in other words, not a german translation
of the latin. It was not intended to be sang by a chorus, it was composed
for a soloist. We can say that actually it's a Marian song.

There are a several versions of the latin text adapted in different ways,
not all of them correct and many chorus versions. Elsewhere, in all versions
it's a beautiful lovely work.

German, and it's _not_ a German translation of the Ave Maria text,
but something from literature that begins with "Ave Maria" (I think
from Sir Walter Scott?)
David Bohn


**the Walter Scott poem - in English- is what Schubert set -
the Latin comes from retro-fitting a liturgical text [presumably for
liturgical use]
to what is a secular, though religious in sentiment, poem. I have only heard
the original English
used [in public] once; for most people that is "not" the Ave Maria....
Roger Petrich, St Thomas More, Chapel Hill NC

German translated from English
Stephen A. Stomps
Auburn High School Choirs 250 Lake Avenue Extension
Auburn New York 13021

Thanks for the great responses. I didn't know this would open up a can of
but what a great discussion!!
I will perform the Latin solo at church and learn the German poem for an
upcoming recital.
It's good to be flexible and versatile, don't you think? Thanks again!!!!!

Liz Keller Glissman
Choir Director, Saint Patrick Catholic Church
Rolla, MO USA