A traditional prayer based upon the words of the Annunciation. The salutation by the archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary in announcing the divine conception of Jesus Christ was, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” To this is added the salutation of Elizabeth when the Virgin Mary visited her: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk. 1:42).
This salutation, however, is no ordinary greeting, as the original Greek term for “hail,” chaire, etymologically denotes the impartation of glad tidings to be received with joy and jubilation. It is used in this sense in various places in the Old Testament: “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion, . . . rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem” (Zep. 3:14) and “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you . . . riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass” (Zec. 9:9).
The angelic salutation occurs frequently in the offices of Coptic worship, as in the canonical hours. After the TRISAGION and the Lord’s Prayer and before reciting the creed, the Prayer of the First Hour continues: “Hail Mary, we beseech you, holy one, full of glory, ever-virgin, Mother of God, holy one, full of glory, may you lift up our prayers to your Beloved Son, that He may pardon us our sins. Hail, holy Virgin, who brought forth the True Light, Christ our Lord. . . . Hail, Virgin, true Queen. Hail, honor of our race, who gave birth to Emmanuel.”
In the psalmody, a daily theotokion is devoted to ascribing praise to the Mother of God. Notable are the following:
- for Sunday: “Hail to thee, Mary, the mother of Emmanuel. . . . Hail Mary, the Theotokos.”
- for Tuesday: “Hail to the Theotokos. . . . Hail to the Immaculate. . . . Hail to thee, who hast found grace. The Lord is with thee. Hail to thee who received from the angel the joy of the world. Hail to thee who gave birth to the Creator.”
- for Wednesday: “Great is the honor which befell thee, O Gabriel, who carried the good news and announced it to the Virgin Mary.”
- for Friday: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is thy Similar verses of praise also form part of the Lobsh (the explanatory commentary included in the psalmody), the doxology, that follows the Psalms of the morning prayer, and the psalmody of the Coptic month of Kiyahk.
In the morning and evening raising of incense, the incense of the Pauline epistle and the praxis reading, when the priest offers incense toward the north, he says, “With the Angel Gabriel we salute thee, saying, “Hail to thee who art full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”‘
Before the creed and the offertory, the people sing the Intercession to the Theotokos, the Queen.
After the reading of the Catholicon, known as the Catholic epistles, the congregation sings the hymn to Mary, which varies according to the time of the year, for example:
- on the Feast of the Virgin Mary and certain other days: “Hail to thee, O Mary, the Graceful Dove, who gave birth to God the Logos.”
- on the Feast of the Annunciation: “Hail to thee, who hast found grace. The Lord is with thee. Hail to thee who received from the angel the joy of the World.”
- during the month of Kiyahk: “Hail Mary, divine peace be unto thee. Hail to thee, Mother of the Holy One.”
An ostracon found in Luxor in Upper Egypt bears evidence that the angelic salutation was popular as a common devotional prayer in the sixth century (Leclerq, 1912).
- ‘Abd al-Masih Salib al-Mas‘udi. Kitab al-Khulaji al-Muqaddas ay Kitab al-Thalathat Quddasat. Cairo, 1902.
- Iqladiyus Yuhanna Labib. Kitab al-Absalmudiyyah al Sanawiyyah al-Muqaddasah. Cairo, 1908.
- Kitab al-Ajbiyah. Cairo, 1900.
- Leclerq, H. “Prière de la Vierge Marie sur un ostrakon de Louqsor.” Bulletin d’ancienne littérature d’archéologie chrétienne 2 (1912):3-22.