The Song of Mary

"Magnificat" is a liturgical hymn or canticle found in the Christian Bible, specifically in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:46-55). It is traditionally attributed to the Virgin Mary and is also known as the "Song of Mary" or the "Canticle of Mary". The term "Magnificat" is derived from the Latin word for "magnify" or "exalt", which reflects the theme of Mary's praise and exaltation of God in the hymn.

Key points about the Magnificat:

  • Biblical Origin: The Magnificat is a part of the New Testament, appearing in the Gospel of Luke. It is Mary's response to the news of her pregnancy and her visit to her relative Elizabeth, who is also miraculously expecting a child (John the Baptist).
  • Praise and Thanksgiving: The hymn is a song of praise and thanksgiving to God. Mary magnifies and exalts the Lord for His greatness and mercy, acknowledging Him as her Savior.
  • Prophetic and Social Justice Themes: The Magnificat contains prophetic elements and themes of social justice. Mary speaks of God's preference for the humble and the lowly, His mercy, and His fulfillment of promises to the poor and oppressed.
  • Liturgical Use: The Magnificat has been incorporated into Christian liturgy and is frequently sung or recited during the evening prayer service known as Vespers in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican traditions. It is an important part of the Magnificat antiphon, a component of the daily Liturgy of the Hours.
  • Musical Settings: Over the centuries, the Magnificat has been set to music by numerous composers. Many choral settings and musical arrangements exist, and it is often performed as part of choral and religious music, particularly in settings of the Vespers service.
  • Theological Significance: The Magnificat is a significant text in Christian theology and spirituality, emphasizing themes of humility, gratitude, and the role of the marginalized in God's plan. It is seen as a model of devotion and submission to God's will.
  • Ecumenical Relevance: While the Magnificat holds a central place in Catholic and Orthodox worship, it is also appreciated and respected in many Protestant denominations as a biblical and devotional text.

The Magnificat is a biblical hymn found in the Gospel of Luke, attributed to the Virgin Mary. It is a song of praise and thanksgiving to God, emphasizing themes of humility, mercy, and social justice. It is an integral part of Christian liturgy and has inspired musical compositions across various traditions.

Example of Magnificat

Bach - Magnificat BWV 243 - Van Veldhoven | Netherlands Bach Society