We have now entered into another season and cycle of the Church Calendar: Advent. Perhaps we should take the opportunity to sing more Advent songs and dwell on the current season before enjoying the Christmas carols to follow.
The Song of Mary, also called Magnificat, from Luke 1:46–55, is a well-known Advent song, and is one of the most powerful song texts in the Bible. “Magnificat”, from the Latin Magnificat Anima mea Dominum (my soul glorifies the greatness of the Lord), has been set to many tunes from simple hymns to complex choral pieces. Because of the beautiful musical settings, the message of the Magnificat tends to be overlooked.
After Mary received the news from the angel Gabriel that she had been chosen to be the mother of God’s Son, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. In their conversation, Mary sang with deep humility, gratitude and joy at having been given such an honour. We hear this in stanzas 1 and 2 where Mary proclaimed God’s goodness. But Mary’s declaration was more than just praise!
What follows in stanza 3 is Mary’s expression of God’s love towards all people who fear him. God is a god of justice regardless of status or race. He does not tolerate selfishness.
In stanza 4, Mary sings of God’s love and concern for the poor, the weak and the weary. In the final stanza, Mary reminds us of God’s covenant to Abraham and his descendants, and God’s faithfulness to all His people.
The Magnificat calls us to participate in God’s act of caring for the poor. It challenges us to practise our faith as Mary did. She humbly obeyed God’s call, was grateful to sing praises to God and was brave enough to be the voice of the poor.
|Mary’s Song (Magnificat) from Luke 1:46–55 (NIV)
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
|MY SOUL GIVES GLORY TO MY GOD (UMH 198)
My soul gives glory to my God,
My God has done great things for me:
From age to age to all who fear,
Love casts the mighty from their thrones,
Praise God, whose loving covenant
Words: Miriam Therese Winter (1987) (Luke 1:46b–55)
Judith Laoyan-Mosomos is the Director for Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.
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