“The Angel Gabriel”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1639 (broadside)
Keywords: prophecy religious Bible childbirth
Found in: Britain(England)


Gabriel is sent to Mary to announce that she will bear God's son. Mary is surprised at these tidings, but is assured they are true. Things come true as forecast. Listeners are enjoined to behave well as a result

Supplemental text

Angel Gabriel, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Arthur Quiller-Couch, The Oxford Book of Ballads, #106,
pp. 446-447. Source not listed.

The Angel Gabriel from God
  Was sent to Galilee,
Unto a Virgin fair and free,
  Whose name was called Mary:
And when the Angel thither came,
  He fell down on his knee,
And looking up in the Virgin's face,
  He said, 'All hail, Mary!'
    Then, sing we all, both great and small,
      Noel, Noel, Noel;
    We may rejoice to hear the voice
      Of the Angel Gabriel.

(4 additional stanzas)


This ballad gives a brief, but accurate, account of the events in Luke 1:26-2:20. The only unscriptural detail is Mary's betrothal by lot to "an old man," Joseph, a detail found only in the apocryphal Gospels.

This should not be confused with another "Angel Gabriel" carol. This one begins with these lines:

The angel Gabriel from God

Was sent to Galilee

Unto a virgin fair and free

Whose name was called Mary.

The other Gabriel carol, which I have heard sung (by Maddy Prior I think) but which does not seem to be traditional, begins

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,

His wings as srifted snow, his eyes as flame. - RBW


  1. OBB 106, "The Angel Gabriel" (1 text)
  2. OBC 37, "The Angel Gabriel" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. ST OBB106 (Partial)
  4. Roud #815
  5. BI, OBB106