A traditional Christmas Basque carol (also known as The Angel Gabriel), created by Sabine Baring-Gould, believed to be based upon a 13th or 14th century Latin carol entitled Angelus Ad Virginem. The lyrics are a narrative of the Annunciation of the birth of Christ, as told in Luke 1:26-38 (-OM-'s note: I'm hoping I'm quoting the right reference here...the infancy narative in Matthew doesn't match up with the words to this hymn, so Luke seemed to be the closest match in canon. If anyone can prove me wrong, please let me know.) Baring-Gould's version is based upon the Basquecarol 'Birjina gaztettobat zegoen, which he translated into English and reduced from 6 verses to 4, as well as giving the Archangel the familiar Victorian image of white "wings as drifted snow". Ahh, the joy's of translation...

The song is quite possibly one of the more obscure of Christmas songs, at least in the present day. A brief spin around the Web shows the song appearing on a few Christian albums, but not much else. One noteable exception is A Very Special Christmas, in which Sting does a somewhat haunting rendition of the hymn.

In some cases, the chorus of this hymn is sometimes sung as "Most highly favoured lady". This tends to depend on location though.

Gabriel's Message

The Angel Gabriel from heaven came
His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flames
"Oh hail" has said he to Holy Maiden Mary
(to Holy Mary)
Most highly favoured maid- Gloria
(Most highly favoured maid Gloria)

Forknown a blessed mother thou shalt be
For generations laud and honor thee
Thy son shall be Emmanuel th'as years forsawt
Most highly favoured maid- Gloria
(Most highly favoured maid Gloria)

The gentle Mary neatly bowed the head
"To me, be as it pleaseth God" she said
"My soul shall whole and magnify this holy maid"
Most highly favoured maid- Gloria
(Most highly favoured maid Gloria)

Of her Emmanuel, the Christ was crossed
His Bethlehem all honor Christmas ghost
As everyone through out the world will Heaven save
Most highly favoured maid- Gloria
(Most highly favoured maid Gloria)

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