Ave Maria is one of the most popular and moving wedding songs of all time. However, the composer of the melody, Franz Schubert, did not write it as a hymn, but as a setting of a song from Walter Scott's popular epic poem The Lady of the Lake. In the poem, the titular character Ellen Douglas sings a prayer addressed to the Virgin Mary, calling upon her for help.  The opening words and refrain of Ellen's song led to the idea of adapting Schubert's melody as a setting for the full text of the traditional Roman Catholic prayer "Ave Maria", and it has been recorded by different artists hundreds of times.

Here are 10 of our favourites:

Barbara Bonney

If you’ve heard a version of the song on Youtube that’s attributed to Maria Callas, it’s probably soprano Barbara Bonney’s, as La Divina never performed the Schubert piece.

Christina England Hale

A dignified and emotional recording by a relatively low-profile singer from Utah.

Andrea Bocelli

Bocelli can always be relied on to tug at our heartstrings with his angelic voice, and this is no exception.

Luciano Pavarotti

The deeply-mourned Italian tenor had one of the most powerful renditions of the hymn, with his own eyes watering as he got swept up in the emotion.


Beyoncé’s version may not be a favourite with many classical music purists, but Queen Bey transformed a beautiful hymn into an ineffable love song with her unmistakeable voice.

Celine Dion

The Canadian diva puts her pipes to full use in this incredible interpretation of the song.

Barbara Streisand

Ms Streisand’s marvellous version of the song appeared on her first Christmas album, released in 1967.

Andre Rieu and Mirusia

In the video of this stunning performance by Australian soprano Mirusia and legendary violinist Andre Rieu, the camera keeps zooming in on a woman overcome with emotion, dabbing at her eyes. We feel you lady.

Josh Groban

The singer-songwriter performs a subdued but heartfelt version of the song.

Frank Sinatra

This version from Ol’ Blue Eyes is one that not many people know about, but it’s beautifully performed in Frank’s own unique way.

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