The text of the Ave Maria…virgo serena is taken from a cantorale, or hymn, which can be found in the medieval manuscript E-Bc 911 located in the Catalonian town of Girona. The text differs from the more well-known Ave maria…benedicta tu in mulieribus of which many composers, like Victoria, Schubert, and Gounod, have set to music. During the medieval and renaissance eras there were many different versions of the Ave Maria which composers set to music, and the …virgo serena was one of them. Jean Mouton’s (1459-1522) beautiful setting of the …virgo serena is one such motet that has survived, but composers rarely used the text after the 16th century.
This setting of the Ave Maria…virgo serena uses chant-like melodies but does not incorporate any particular chant from the original manuscript. The accessible and sometimes polyphonic choral lines make this a fun song to sing for any school, community, or church choir. The accompaniment can be played by either an organ or piano.