Beautiful and Accessible – The Angelus – Say it, Sing it!

How often we complain about the sad state of the Liturgy of the Hours?  How it never quite made it out into the parishes as planned.  How little enthusiasm people have for it.  Why the laity (present company included) don’t embrace it in their daily lives.  We worry, wonder, and fuss. We feel like liturgical failures because we don’t pray 7 times a day like the Benedictines or even 5 times a day like the Muslims.    

Well, here’s one answer to the “why.”  For most lay people with jobs, families, studies, and all the cares the flesh is heir to – the Liturgy of the Hours is just too much!

However, here’s a lovely alternative that sits right in front of us – and which many of us hear rung out regularly on the electronic carillon:  The Angelus.

6 a.m., Noon, 6 p.m. – and if that doesn’t work for you, morning, lunch, and evening will work just fine.  Easily memorized, no books or ribbons required.

Beginning with the recitation of three Hail Marys at evening and later popularized in the 13th century by those tireless evangelizers of the laity, the Franciscans, it’s perfect for the overwhelmed believer in the 21st century.  And it honors the moment in history that changed everything!

And if you want to chant it, just sing along with this Latin version or translate the same into English for greater acceptance and wider distribution.


11 Replies to “Beautiful and Accessible – The Angelus – Say it, Sing it!”

  1. I pray the Angelus daily, but typically only early during my morning "office". I've long found the Angelus wonderful and more helpful than the Rosary (not a criticism of the Rosary, but of me). I do have a supra-mediation that is Rosary-like in quality – for the first Ave, a prayer that God will give me the grace to be open to his invitation, for the second Ave, that I respond generously to it, and for the third Ave, that my response is fruitful. Over the years, I've tweaked the Angelus for personal prayer. I pray the Regina Caeli not only during Eastertide, but also on all Sundays outside of Lent, and during the erstwhile Assumption octave. During Christmastide, I add to the third versicle, "and we beheld his glory". my understanding of the Reginia Caeli is that there is a fairly old pious legend (which is referenced, IIRC, in some prayers of the Eastern Churches), that the angel(s) of the Lord announced the good news of his resurrection to her (in some versions of the legend, our Lord announced this himself by visitation/apparition). In any event, with Ignatian scene-setting, I imagine the RC as a scene where Mary comes to the fullness of awareness of the resurrection.

  2. This is lovely! I just looked in the Book of Parish Chant (1st ed.) and in the Liber and don't see this version… can someone point me to the sheet music, please?

  3. Thanks so much, Father. And what a delightful site – there's lots to learn from and enjoy!

  4. Thank you Father, and thank you MJB. Great way to start and end the day. Thinking ahead, great to teach the choir and end night rehearsal.

  5. Re: singing the Angelus, as another option, I'll report that on their podcasts of Lauds, I have heard the monks of Le Barroux do it on a low monotone after Lauds – which is, maybe surprisingly, effective.

    I have now and then thought about ways to shoehorn the Angelus into musical forms from the sung office – but it never really fits except for the obvious vs. & collect at the end. The one by Charpentier linked above is one way; another that I have come across is to do the vs./r's to the mode 1 psalm tone and then the Ave's to the familiar mode 1 chant (which is basically the opposite approach) .

  6. When our choir rehearsals temporarily began at 6:00, i always began them with a chanted Angelus in English that we had cobbled together.
    It was drastically more effective for quieting the choir down and beginning with prayer than anything i ever came up with for the 7:00 start…

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  7. Yes, my thoughts as well. I'm not a Latin scholar but the pronunciations are bit too American in places for my liking. The melody is so beautiful and the voices are so angelic that I just try to overlook that though.

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