The Angelus is a prayer said in honor of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Its name comes from the first line of the prayer: “The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary…” Or, in Latin: “Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ…”
It is repeated three times each day – morning , noon, and night – at the sound of a bell. Originally the Angelus prayers were said only at night. But over the years, midday and morning hours were added. Many parishes today continue the tradition of ringing the Angelus bells, traditionally at 6:00 am, noon and 6:00 pm.
It started as a triple repetition of the Hail Mary – and evolved to include three introductory verses, a concluding verse and a prayer. By the early seventeenth century, the prayer – as we know it today – was complete.
The triple Hail Mary was associated with ringing a bell, a practice derived from the monastic tradition of Complin (night prayer). Bells dedicated to the Angelus can be found throughout Europe, with a number of the bells dedicated to Saint Gabriel.
Saint Gabriel was the angel who announced to Mary that she would bear a Son Who would be conceived of the Holy Spirit.
The Angelus prayer in complete form is:
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among 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
our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
Hail Mary . . .
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary . . .
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.