by Sr Fidelis
The Feast of the Annunciation, normally celebrated on March 25th, was transferred to today, April 8th. Any feast which falls during Holy Week or Easter Week is moved to a later date, because of the importance of these sacred days in the Church’s calendar.
The Annunciation was celebrated in the East as early as 430 AD. Luke’s Gospel gives us the account of the Angel Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin Mary.
In the Offertory for this feast day, Ave Maria, two greetings make up the text. First, the Angel Gabriel’s greeting and secondly, Elizabeth’s inspired salutation during Mary’s visitation. We know these familiar words as the first part of the Rosary, or “Hail Mary”.
The Offertory is a chant that accompanies the presentation of gifts to the altar. This includes the bread and wine for Eucharist, but also included other gifts and offerings in medieval days. Because this procession of gifts was of varying lengths, verses were added to the main body of the Offertory, so it could be as short or as long as need be to accompany the action.
The version you are about to hear includes several verses that continue the dialogue between Mary and Gabriel.
Hail Mary, full of grace,the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
V 1. How can this be done in me, who have not known a man? The Spirit of the Lord will come over you ,and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
V. 2 Therefore the holy one to be born of you will be called the Son of God.