Saturday, December 10, 2016


    The Song of Mary     Magnificat
        Luke 1:46-55
My soul doth magnify the Lord, *
    and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded *
    the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold from henceforth *
    all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me, *
    and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him *
    throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; *
    he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, *
    and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things, *
    and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel, *
    as he promised to our forefathers,
    Abraham and his seed for ever.

In place of the usual gradual psalm, there’s the — responsorial — for tomorrow (somehow “responsorial” sounds like a word funeral directors might use, but there it is), once again playing into my contention that the lectionary framers were idiots: why the Magnificat for tomorrow? Advent Three? 

Magnificat, it’s the song Luke tells us Mother Mary sang about her pregnancy when she visited her kinswoman (cousin is the popular understanding of the relationship) Elizabeth the pregnant mother of John the Baptist. These are great stories, and given that Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father (Luke 1:68-79) sang at John's birth, and the song that Hannah the mother of Samuel praised God in song (1 Samuel 2:1-10) sang to rejoice in their sons who were both gifts from God and gifts to God, of course Mary had to sing a song and of course it must be the best one. 

In fact, in my growing up years we sang the Magnificat in Anglican Chant frequently. In fact again, it would have been unthinkable to say the Magnificat when everyone knew the song by heart. So to this day, reading it aloud makes me both wistful, impoverished, a bit angry, for what the Church has lost in the apparent name and cause of vanillazation. There was an age, a time when Anglicanism could be described or defined as a sound,  a sound in worship. No more. Anglicans, Episcopalians do not read, say the Magnificat, we sing --  sang -- it joyfully !!!     = : >)

But what’s with my whine about the lectionary framers? Singing the Magnificat on Advent Three when Mary Sunday, if we may call it that, is Advent Four. Am I some kind of self-styled liturgical snob? No, but I am in favor of logic. I’m not fanatical about logic, but I am fond of logic when it reaches a conclusion I appreciate. 

And again and unendingly, eighty-one, I’ll write and say what I DWP. 

Where was I going, where did I mean to end up with this blogpost? 

Well, there’s this bit of English art that hangs in my office at the church, gift of a lifelong friend. As he didn’t tell me the name of it, I’ll call it “Blessing of the Hunt.” That’s a CofE clergyman standing there casting the blessing, perhaps aspersionally. In this case the aspersions go both ways. But like all of us preening behind the collar and under the robes, he doesn’t have a clue. 


Art, painting: "Magnificat" by Jan Richardson, online

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