(13th/14th Century Latin)
(Translators: Gabriel Gillett, Gerard Manley Hopkins, John MacLeod Campbell Crum, Rev. J. O’Connor, W.A. Pickard-Cambridge)
This medieval Christmas Latin hymn originates from 13th or 14th century Britain or France. It is thought to have some kind of connection with the Church of Addle in Yorkshire, England, after it was found in the 13th/14th century manuscript Sequentiale and known to have been printed in Ireland around 1361 when it was published in the Dublin Troper which was used for Mass. It has also been found in four Marian poems written by the religious writer John Audeley and Geoffrey Chaucer uses it as the Latin hymn that Nicholas of Oxford sings in Miller’s Tales.
The song itself is a version of “Hail Mary” in poetic form about the Anunciation and is translated in its English medieval form to “Gabriel, From Heven King Was To The Maide Sende”. It is thought that there may have been as many as 27 stanzas with each one starting with the next letter of the alphabet in its original form, but these have now been reduced to five in the version sung today.
Being seen and heard in many guises it has been used as the basis for “The Angel Gabriel” with the words added by Sabine Baring-Gould, has been translated by Gabriel Gillett under the name “Came the Archangel to the Maid”, “Gabriel to May Came” by John MacLeod Campbell Crum and another version under that name by W.E. Pickard-Cambridge, “Gabriel To Mary Went” by Rev. J. O’Connor and under its original name by Gerard Manley Hopkins. It also goes under the name “The Angel Gabriel from God” and “Gabriel From Heaven King”.
Bach Choir recordings
London 417-898 (CD: O Come All Ye Faithful)
Members of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
Organ – John Scott