The prayer incorporates two passages from
Saint Luke's Gospel: "Hail, the Lord is with thee."
 and "Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." And "full of grace" from John 1:14.
 In mid-13th-century Western Europe the prayer consisted only of these words with the single addition of the name "Mary" after the word "Hail", as is evident from the commentary of Saint
Thomas Aquinas on the prayer.
The first of the two passages from Saint Luke's Gospel is the greeting of the Angel
Gabriel to Mary, originally written in
Koine Greek. The opening word of greeting, χαῖρε, chaíre, here translated "Hail", literally has the meaning "rejoice" or "be glad". This was the normal greeting in the language in which Saint Luke's Gospel is written and continues to be used in the same sense in
Modern Greek. Accordingly, both "Hail" and "Rejoice" are valid English translations of the word ("Hail" reflecting the Latin translation, and "Rejoice" reflecting the original Greek).
The word κεχαριτωμένη, (kecharitōménē), here translated as "full of grace", admits of various translations. Grammatically, the word is the feminine
participle of the verb χαριτόω, charitóō, which means "to show, or bestow with, grace" and here, in the passive voice, "to have grace shown, or bestowed upon, one".
The text also appears in the account of the annunciation contained in the apocryphal
Infancy Gospel of Matthew, in chapter 9.
The second passage is taken from
Elizabeth's greeting to Mary in
Luke 1:42, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." Taken together, these two passages are the two times Mary is greeted in Chapter 1 of Luke.