The Hail Mary, also known as Hail Mother of God, The Angelic Salutation, or Ave Maria (Latin title used by Roman Catholics) is a traditional Christian prayer asking for the intercession of the Virgin Mary a.k.a. Theotokos (in Greek, Θεοτοκος, meaning "God-bearer" or "Birth-giver to God) the mother of Jesus Christ. The Hail Mary is used by Orthodox Christians (Eastern Orthodox), Oriental Orthodox, and a variation thereof slightly different from that used by the Orthodox within Roman Catholicism, as well as by many other groups within the Catholic tradition of Christianity including Anglicans, Independent Catholics, and Old Catholics. Some Protestant denominations, such as Lutherans, also make use of the prayer. Most of the text of the Hail Mary can be found within the Gospel of Luke.
It is typically sung thrice at the end of Vespers during an All-Night Vigil, as well as occurring many times in the course of daily prayer.
The Hail Mary prayer of the Orthodox Christian Church and Eastern Catholic Churches is in the form: :Θεοτόκε Παρθένε, χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη Μαρία, ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ. εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξί, καὶ εὐλογημένος ὁ καρπὸς τῆς κοιλίας σου, ὅτι Σωτήρα ἔτεκες τῶν ψυχῶν ἡμῶν.
- Theotokos Virgin, rejoice, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, for you have borne the Saviour of our souls.
Another English rendering of the same text reads:
- Mother of God and Virgin, rejoice, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast given birth to the Saviour of our souls.
To the Biblical texts this adds the opening invocation "Theotokos Virgin", the name "Mary" and the concluding "for you have borne the Saviour of our souls".
The first part of the prayer is taken directly from the greeting of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Theotokos found in The Gospel According to St. Luke 1:28: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee" (Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ / Chaire, kecharitōmenē, o Kyrios meta sou). The second part is taken from the greeting of the Righteous Elizabeth to the Theotokos in Luke 1:42 "Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξὶν καὶ εὐλογημένος ὁ καρπὸς τῆς κοιλίας σου / eulogēmenē su en gynaixin kai eulogēmenos o karpos tēs koilias sou). To the Biblical texts this adds the opening invocation "Theotokos Virgin", the name "Mary" and the concluding "for you have borne the Saviour of our souls". This was added to explain the reason for her state of holiness. She is blessed and holy because she accepted God's word and gave birth to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity - Jesus Christ -, and because she kept herself in a state of sinless love for God throughout her whole life.