I have a confession…please forgive me. The Bible is filled with miracles and things that seem impossible, but I can more easily believe that Moses parted the Red Sea than I can read the conversation between Elizabeth and Mary as a real conversation. I’ve never heard words so beautiful—this is not typical girl talk! When I consider young Mary responding to Elizabeth’s “Hail Mary” with the “Magnificat” I have trouble believing the words came out of either one of them. Maybe the seeds of doubt were planted somewhere along the line listening to theories about the authorship of Luke and the parallels between the Magnificat and Hannah’s song from Samuel or maybe the answer lies in my own stereotypical view of “girl talk” or that I need to be more feminist.
I decided to suspend my disbelief and read it again coming straight from the lips of Mary. What I hear in the song is the voice of a prophet calling for huge changes in the world—and it just never occurred to me to think of Mary as a prophet Tonight as my 7-year-old son fell asleep beside me we listened to Bach’s Magnifcat in E-flat major. I pondered how wonderful it must have been to know Jesus as a seven-year-old and thought some more about Mary as a prophet, as one who speaks for God. I remembered my son as a baby and toddler: how I understood his needs and could easily interpret his early attempts at communication. I would speak for him so that others knew, too. And it hit me, Mary as mother of God absolutely was a prophet in the most intimate of ways. We don’t appreciate Mary enough in the Protestant tradition.
Lisa Nichols Hickmans shares some fun questions about this passage that almost have to be considered in two parts…
What instruments would you use to help your contemporaries hear this song? What lyrics would you highlight? What group would you like to hear do a rendition of this song? What would the chorus be?
Mmm….I listened to a number of renditions of the Magnificat and they were all glorious. I might pick a different path if I set this to music. I understand that the Magnificat is used as an evening prayer in some church traditions. I might like to hear it sung more as a lullaby with a simple accompaniment—and as far as an artist to sing the song? Fernando Ortega comes to mind. I love his voice and his music has been a huge blessing to me. The chorus would be: And we still sing, oh Mary, you are blessed!
Write a few petitions for what might need to be turned upside down in the world around us.
My simple petition would be for a blessing on all marriages—that God give couples the desire and strength to honor their marriage promises. And I would add to it a petition that as a society we would begin to once again see the precious nature of marriage and another petition that God grants protection to children and healing to pain resulting from all broken family relationships.
I’ve been reflecting on Mary as I read this passage, but I don’t want to forget about Joseph, who in so many ways reminds me of the Joseph on my mind in the previous post. Mary’s Joseph was a dreamer, too, and he preserved Jesus’ life by taking him to Egypt and also provided for Jesus during his childhood years. Mary and Joseph are such a beautiful couple facing surprises and hardships together through the childhood years of Jesus! How I Wish that I could have listened to their dinner time conversations!!!
Once I had a chorus and some petitions, the song wrote itself…
Maybe someone with more skill, training, and musical gifts could be blessed by at least the idea for a simple hymn to marriage!