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The Rev. Dr. Violet Lee
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.”
Luke 1: 46-49, ESV
One of the reasons I appreciate Luke’s Gospel has to do with this praise song. Luke does what no other gospel writer does; gives preferential treatment to the agency and role of women. Yes, the voices of women are heard throughout this account of our Savior’s birth, life, and ministry.
The Magnificat has always resonated with me because it highlights the struggle of women and oppressed communities having found favor with God, despite what the world would suspect. While I have always cherished Mary’s Song of Praise, this hymn was not a familiar hymn to me. After listening to it, over and over again, I discovered how much I like it.
“Dismissing selfish hearts” seems to be a hard concept to fathom in this season of self-aggrandizement and self-promotion. Yet, this Advent carol teaches us what an appropriate response to God’s faithfulness sounds like. In Mary’s humility, she has been found worthy to give birth to the Son of God. She says to us, “I am blessed, others will declare me blessed and it all comes from God.” It is not because of anything that I have done. Nor did I deserve this great blessing. Yet, God had mercy on my lowly estate. Therefore, I can do nothing but praise God! It was in her humility that we see a glimpse of holiness. Would be that we could be so humble.
In Latin, “Magnificat anima mea Dominum” is translated to mean “My soul magnifies the Lord.” Filled with messianic hope and resonating in the Abrahamic covenant, Mary’s Song of Praise is unlike anything else in the New Covenant. Her prophetic utterances follow on the heels of Elizabeth’s. Here, two women of different generations have found pleasure in the miracle of God. They rejoice together, singing praises to the One in whom they have found favor. They may have been the least likely to find this sort of elevation among fellow humans, but with God, all things are possible! Have you stopped to celebrate the impossibilities made possible by this great God in your own life?
I have come to appreciate this hymn, too. As I sing in this Advent season, I sing with renewed purpose and joy. Now, I have a new song added to my quiver which helps me celebrate the manifold blessings God has brought into my life. Does your soul magnify the Lord, today?
Prayer: Lord, because you have done great things for me, my soul overflows with gratitude! My spirit rejoices in the relationship I have with my Savior. Amen.