Magnificat

Updated with performance notes below

The Magnificat, Mary’s revolutionary song, is an option this Sunday and the next: Advent would not be complete without its defiant joy and radical hope.

This being a winter like no other, I thought I would do something different with this year’s Advent Magnificat. The variation offered below is designed to be sung to Hubert Hasting Parry’s magnificent Jerusalem, with apologies to the composer; although perhaps he would be sympathetic to the reassignment. Parry, after all, succumbed to the pandemic Spanish influenza in 1918, and he and his executors assigned the copyright of Jerusalem first to the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, then to the Women’s Institutes, before it passed into the public domain in 1968.

Mary sings of God in the third person, and the combination of voices attempts to evoke the joining of our hymn of praise to God with Mary’s song about her very particular encounter with the Holy Spirit. The use of feminine third-person pronouns for the Divine is a quite deliberate choice. However, it would be possible to render the whole as a second-person address to God, if local circumstances compelled it.

A Magnificat

My God! My spirit sings your praise,
my soul sings out your holy Name!
My lowliness was your delight,
your blessings far beyond compare.
My spirit sings how mighty is
the Author of all life and love;
my God, my spirit* sings your praise;
my soul sings out your holy Name.

Her mercy is on her children,
and her children’s* children, whom
her strong arm tenders and protects;
the humble and the lowly, too.
Her wisdom undoes arrogance,
the thrones of power are dust underfoot*.
My God, my spirit sings your praise;
my soul sings out your holy Name.

She feeds the hungry with good things,
sends the* rich empty away.
She lifts the downcast from their grief;
she keeps the promises she’s made.
She forgets nothing she has pledged,
her faithfulness from age to age.
My God my spirit sings your praise;
my soul sings out your holy Name.

Mary’s song can be found in Luke 1:46-55.

Performance notes:
*the first syllable of spirit is slurred in the refrain: spi-i-rit
*”her” and “the” are slurred across two semi-quavers/sixteenth notes in the second lines of verses 2 & 3 (measure 6)
*you will need to add a passing note to accommodate the extra syllable in “underfoot”: – – _

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing (Upper Room Books, 2020). She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
This entry was posted in Advent Meditations, poetry, prayer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Magnificat

  1. Pingback: Complicity with God | over the water

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s