Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "It Came Upon The Midnight Clear"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 1:46-47 – And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. (KJV)
Growing up in an Italian neighbourhood named Tacony in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, during Christmastime was festive for a young boy. The Roman Catholic Church was steeped in customs, especially during the Advent season. These traditions originated in the fourth century A.D. and lasted until shortly before the British invasion of the Beatles into North America in the 1960s.
On a Sunday morning during mass, you would have heard a priest chant — Gregorian style — in ecclesiastical Latin: Magnificat anima mea Dominum. These are the first words in what has been called, throughout the years, The Magnificat. Magnificat is a conjugation of the Latin verb magnificare which means to magnify. So when Mary says, "My soul doth magnify the Lord", it is her praise prayer to God, her devotion to the Lord, a canticle of joy some have labelled Mary's Song.
Mary's praise is not something exclusive. She is simply mirroring how so many of the Old Testament saints praised God. For example:
1 Samuel 2:1a – Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord. (KJV)
Notice the similarity. From Mary's heart, she poured forth praise that was in the language of Scripture. Her soul and spirit were filled with the Word of God. Mary's familiarity with the Old Testament and also her personal relationship with the Lord are so obvious that they almost echo trumpets resounding. Now consider:
Luke 1:48 – For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. (KJV)
The name Mary means God has exalted. Mary was a lowly handmaiden, an ordinary servant girl whom God chose to bear His Son. For that reason, she would be blessed in a most extraordinary way. Mary would be the recipient of God's covenantal promise to Abraham, that all the nations of the earth would be blessed. That necessitated rejoicing!
Mary's song is celebratory. The Magnificat does nothing but praise God. Imagine your first response when a terrific event happens in your life — for example, a new job, a promotion, an engagement to be married, a new baby, or a new home. We would say, "This calls for a celebration." Jesus has come into the world for the sole purpose of delivering mankind out of the bondage of sin. Let's celebrate!
So, when we hear, read, or think of Mary's words at this time of year, let us prepare our hearts to magnify the Lord!
Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (KJV)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for all those who do not know You and are missing the blessings of Your gracious gift for us: Your Son Jesus. In His name, we pray. Amen.