The Angelus is a brief devotion in honor of the Incarnation that consists of short verses drawn from the Bible and a triple repetition of the Hail Mary. The devotion derives its name from the opening phrase in Latin: Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae (the Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary).
The Angelus is a way for lay people to sanctify the hours of the day that echoes the monastic praying of the Liturgy of the Hours. The practice seems to have always been associated with the ringing of a bell at 6:00 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m. Whole villages and towns would literally come to halt when the Angelus bell rang. Laborers in the fields, workers in shops, and families at home set aside what they were doing and prayed the Angelus together.
Today many churches and monasteries—as well as a number of radio and television stations—ring the Angelus bell at six o’clock in the morning, at noon, and at six in the evening, inviting the faithful to pause at what they are doing and pray.
Praying the Angelus sanctifies the hours of the day. God is our all in all, our very beginning and the end toward which we strive. By intentionally setting aside time for prayer throughout the day, every day, we turn our whole lives over to God, who becomes the motivation of all we do and all we are. Perhaps no devotion is better suited to this end than one centered on the Incarnation.
This description of the Angelus is adapted from the Words of Faith: Our Prayers (The Angelus) bulletin insert, written by Andrew Gawrych, C.S.C. Download the full text of this bulletin insert here.
The Angelus Prayer Text
The Angelus is traditionally prayed in a call and response format, with a leader announcing the versicle (V) and everyone present saying the response (R).
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of 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
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to your word.
Hail Mary . . .
V. And the Word was made Flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary . . .
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross be brought to the glory of his resurrection.
Through the same Christ Our Lord.