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German composer and arranger Franz Biebl studied music at the Humanistic Gymnasium in Amberg, and received Master of Music degrees in composition and choral conducting at the State Music Academy in Munich. Biebl was employed as the choral music consultant to the Bavarian State Radio, where he worked relentlessly to fill the station’s archives with popular choral music, listening to and encouraging small choral groups all over Germany. As a composer, Biebl strove to expand the German folk-song repertoire, composing hundreds of arrangements for all types of choral ensembles.

Biebl’s setting of the Marian antiphon Ave Maria exploits the richly sonorous possibilities of double-chorus writing for men’s voices. The familiar Ave Maria text is sung by a four-voice choir and answered by a trio of soloists. Between each of the sung “verses” of text, a soloist chants a shorter bit of scripture. The devotional quality of the text, which commemorates the Incarnation, and the rich chordal sonorities of Biebl’s music create a satisfying blend of medieval chant and warm, 20th-century harmonies. The version we sing in these concerts, as well as two other editions for mixed chorus, has been published by Hinshaw Music of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, under the Chanticleer Choral Series label.

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae
concepit de Spiritu sancto.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum;
benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus.

Maria dixit: Ecce ancilla Domini;
fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Et verbum caro factum est
et habitavit in nobis.

Sancta Maria, mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus.
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

The angel of the Lord made his annunciation to Mary et
and she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace,  the Lord is with you; 
blessed are you among women, 
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Mary said, “Behold the servant of the Lord;
let it be unto me according to Your word.”

And the Word was made flesh
and dwelt among us.

Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners.
Holy Mary, pray for us
now and at the hour or our death. Amen.