Type: Literary Analysis
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The authors highlight the words of Mary to Elizabeth as was highlighted by Luke the Evangelist in Luke 1:46-55. It is also a popular song that is commonly referred to as the Magnificat. Fournier & Gilbert (2005) acknowledges the song of Mary was one of the ways that God used to transform the world. The song of Mary as noted by the authors is about how she encountered God in a very special way unlike the common ways that were used to people in the past. The three ways that led to Mary singing the song of praise can be as a result of experiencing God in three different ways namely relationally, personally and intimately. It is also true according to the authors that we can learn about the personality of Mary through the song of praise. Fournier & Gilbert (2005) argues that the song of praise is a reflection the character of her entire life. Her nature and the reason why God chose to come upon her in such a special is what prompted the early Christians to reflect on Mary and her image in the moments of persecution, doubt and fear. The song is an appreciating and the need to receive and give back to society.

Conradie, M, E. (2008). Angling for Interpretation: A First Introduction to Biblical, Theological and Contextual Hermeneutics. African Sun Media. Pp 24-26

Conradie (2008) acknowledges that Mary is happy and that’s the reason why she is singing. It was at this stage that she had already accepted Jesus in her womb and accepted to carry her all the way despite what others would say about her. Mary is happy that God has given her an opportunity to be the one who would bear the son of God. Mary feels honored of the opportunity to be the mother of the savior. The author notes that the joy of Mary that was manifested in the song is what contributes to the joy of Christmas. It is now appropriate for every Christians who appreciates the great role of Jesus in the salvation of the world to appreciate Mary’s role in giving birth to the savior. The text is acknowledge with the people who cannot read and they narrate the song of Mary as being a bundle of hope to a world that had lost hope. It demonstrates that despite the events taking place in the world, God is still in control and has not forgotten his people. Mary is the mother of all believers and those who doubt her role within the Church should always acknowledge that she was the channel that God used to save the world.

Forte, B & Glenday, D. (2005). To Follow You, Light Of Life: Spiritual Exercises Preached Before John Paul II At The Vatican. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. Pp 137-145

The authors talks about the journey that Mary made to her cousin Elizabeth. According to Forte & Glenday (2005), the visit to her cousin concluded with her song of praise, also known as the Magnificat. The song has been given in the Gospel of Luke (1:46-55). The messiah had already prepared a wedding feast in honor of the whole world and God chose Mary to be the Bride. The book notes that Mary is now beginning to deeply understand the love of God and how he intends to express it to humanity. In addition, the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth is a constant reminder to the Church that God did not forget about his people, and that he was entering in a new covenant with them. Forte & Glenday (2005), notes that Magnificat is a song of praise for the covenants that the living God is now entering with his people. The acceptance of Mary is a good example of how the Church should relate with each other. In relating to the words of St. Ambrose, Forte & Glenday (2005) reiterates that the people should always praise the Lord with a heart of Mary that sung the Magnificat. The song of praise is therefore the song of the Messiah and his wedding banquet.

Oxford University Press. (2006). The Catholic Comparative New Testament: Rheims New Testament / New American Bible / Revised Standard Version / New Revised Standard Version / Jerusalem Bible / New Jerusalem Bible / Good New. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp 12-16

Mary wanted to show how grateful she was to having been chosen as the mother of the savior. Her simple act of going to visit Elizabeth was to show solidarity with her that there was nothing impossible for the Lord. Mary, in her human form had earlier on questioned the deed of the Lord whether it was possible for her conceive and yet she had known no man. The angel affirmed to her that Elizabeth in her old age had already conceived and was expecting. The realization that God had already fulfilled his promise to the nations encourages Mary to pour out her heart in praise and prayer. It was an example that if Mary who was now blessed could have sung to the Lord in praise, the rest of humanity must also follow in her example in appreciating the role of the Lord in salvation. Mary rejoices in the greatness of the Lord and she proclaims that from now on, her spirit will always rejoice in God her savior who had worked marvelous deeds. It encourages all those who feel that they are looked down upon not to give up but to trust that it is the Lord who blesses those who have been despised. Furthermore, Mary was now going to be called blessed because God had found favor with her.

Wright, T, N. (2004). Luke for Everyone. Westminster John Knox Press. Pp 12-19

The authors begin by asking why someone can offer to celebrate is a high tone without inhibition. There are various reasons why someone can out of nowhere begin rejoicing all of a sudden and this is what happened to Mary. All her life, she had lived out of public light and never imagined that God was preparing her for a great mission, being the mother of the savior. One of the reasons for such joy can be because a loved one who has been sick has finally come back to life. This is the great joy that the song of Magnificat tells us. This is why Mary went to see Elizabeth so that she would join her in great joy. The Magnificat, according to Wright (2004) is considered as the most famous songs in the history of Christianity. It is the beginning of celebration which calls upon the world to be prepared and meet the savior. While many have associated the song with Mary, Wright (2004) argues that it is all about God and his wonders and how he will bring in a new revolution to the world in order to fulfill his promise to the nations. The news of Mary’s triumph has been due to the great power of God being manifested to the world.

Part B: Background, Context, Composition and canonization

Question 4: Indentured Slavery & a Song for the Poor

One of the themes that play a role in the passé is the liberation of the oppressed from indentured slavery. The song notes how Mary was committed to justice in having accepted to bring the savior into the world. This has also been noted by Wright (2004), who notes that Mary accepted to save the world in order to liberate the weak and oppressed. It is worth noting that Mary came from a community. The Magnificat is a reflection song that is directed as a sign of hope to the poor. In reflecting through the song of Mary, the Church teaches that people come closer to appreciating God plan in liberating those who have been offended. The song acknowledges that the truth about Gods creation is that he always desire to bring light upon the difficult and at times paths that cannot be understood. In the Gospel of Luke 4:18, the evangelist reminds the world about the mission of bringing happy tidings to the poor. It is the same mission that Mary acknowledged when she said that she has the role of bring Christ to those who had been abandoned and denied justice. This is the relevance of Mary’s jubilant acclamation to Elizabeth that all those who have been chained and cannot give birth will soon receive the salvation of God. As well as those who were in slavery because of their sins will now see the light of Christ.

The Church, according to Oxford University Press (2006), reiterates that the song of praise by Mary reminds the community of believers about their preference to the poor. The mighty that had for long spells oppressed the poor are now being brought down by the mighty power of God. In entrusting the rulers of the world with leadership, Santoro (2011) acknowledges that the Lord expected that they take care of the poor. However, leaders begun lording it over themselves and trampling upon the poor and their cry reached the Lord of Hosts. In turn, he decided to come upon earth by himself so as to liberate them from the hands of the rulers of the earth. This is why Mary acknowledges in the song that the Lord has decided to cast down the rulers from their thrown. Furthermore, the song continues that the poor will no longer witness the hardships that they have encountered at the hands of the rich and powerful because the Lord will overturn their kingdom.

The poor of the land had been in slavery and they ate at the comfort of their bosses. The change described by the song of Mary indicates that they will no longer hunger for the food of their masters. Santoro (2011) describes this situation as the poor being filled with good things and those were rich will be sent away empty handed. In addition, Wright (2004) states that the mercy of God had all along been with the poor and suffering community who were in captivity, and that he had a saving plan for them all. This came to fulfillment in the person of Mary when God decided to restore the oppressed.

The Psalmist continues to sing that those who place their hope upon the Lord will never be disappointed. This was the same scenario that the poor were experiencing. Mary demonstrates her care for the poor and calls them the poor of Yahweh. Wright (2004), notes that the poor had all along waited on a savior who will at last free them from the York of slavery. Smith (2003), on the other hand explains that Mary proclaimed a saving message to the poor and notes that the coming Messiah will be a Messiah to the poor. Smith (2003) further notes that those who were in captivity and slavery had not yet known about the truth, and the saving power of God. Through Mary, God reveals to the world that those who know the truth will be saved. It is the truth about God that came into the world to be a gift to the poor, as well as how his love manifests itself to those who are looked down upon by the mighty. The song of Mary comes into fulfillment with the coming of Jesus for Jesus himself stated that he did not come to those who healthy and rich, but he came to those who had already been rejected with the society, the lame, blind, poor and all those who were short of the grace of God.

As noted by Santoro (2011), the late Pope John Paul II invited the Church to reflect upon the Magnificat as a song of praise and which was meant to safeguard about the importance of the poor. Those who are still in captivity of sin and slavery cannot be considered as having been liberated. Santoro (2011) acknowledges that to the poor and slaves, there is no freedom. Mary, who was poor in spirit and came from a community that was despised, but did find favor with the Lord,. She therefore represents all the poor who are struggling in the present life, and reminds all leaders, men and women to always act as a role model. Furthermore, Mary proclaims that the ordinary people on earth can be used by God to liberate the poor. Magnificat acts a constant reminder to ruthless leaders who act without the poor in mind that a day will come that the poor will rule the world. It is during this time that the rich, who had not shown any concern on the poor, will be sent away, empty handed. The hymn of Mary has been greatly associated with the theme of the poor being liberated from their struggles and new dawn where the Lord will forever remain on the throne. Smith (2003) explains that the praise by Mary is a wonderful song in thanksgiving to what the Lord was doing in the lives of the poor and abandoned. The hope of the salves is now being fulfilled in the very eyes of those who had denied the poor justice and they are now being welcomed into the land of happiness and prosperity.

Question 1: Use of Magnificat in Liturgy

There are various Churches that have traditionally observed their religious beliefs and practices by the use of Magnificat. The Catholic Church for instance hold Mary in special honor and usually sings her praises during special days dedicated to Mary. Mary is considered the first tabernacle in the world that welcomed the baby Jesus, and she joined together with the saints in heaven in proclaiming about the might of Jesus. This is why the canticle of Magnificat is a hymn of Mary that is narrated each evening by Marian congregations and various religious houses. The Church uses the hymn of Mary as a way of expressing the nature of the world. Catholic traditions have held that Magnificat is the only prayer that exists in the Church and which was composed by Mary herself. 

Porter (2008), on the other hand states that Magnificat was a song that should be sung in honor of the blessings that Jesus brings into the world. Porter further states that Jesus was dictating what Mary was saying in the song and he should as well be honored in the song. Several Churches use the Magnificat as their entrance and exit hymn while at times it is sung as a sign of thanksgiving. Liturgical celebrations invoke the song of Mary as a sign of calling upon the Holy Spirit into the Church because tradition holds that they were the words that were spoken by Christ himself to the entire Church through Mary. It is sung as a sign of communion in the Church, taking into account the union that brought together Mary and Jesus.

The Church also accepts liturgical celebrations that use the Magnificat as an expression of praise and blessings. Masses are at times offered by using the Magnificat as a canticle invoked to bring blessing upon the land. It is also an act of telling God that Christians are grateful. The church honors women in the Church for their great role in bring birth into the Church. It is a practice among some Churches that the canticle of Mary be observed when a new born is to come into the world. To some, it has been accepted as a greater form of thanksgiving that humanity can return to God. Liturgical celebrations reflect on God as a savior but call its faithful to acknowledge that God cannot save without the cooperation of man. This is why they humbly call upon the Church to intercede in prayer so as to attain the humility of Mary. The powerful message from the song of Mary signifies the power of God and how he not only gives food to the hungry, but will be able to avenge those who deny justice to the poor and the weak. It is a liturgical act of calling upon God to pay back vengeance for atrocities that has been committed. The Church, however, has maintained that members of the body of Christ must always act in accordance with the will of God, to love even their enemies and leave vengeance to God.

Magnificat acts as a divine canticle used in Spirit Churches. It is a form of benediction that reflects on God as having blessed the land and it is only opportune to return thanksgiving and praise for what he has done. As noted by Porter (2008), it is a wonderful song of praise that is directed towards benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The song of Mary is also used in liturgical celebrations as the real power of God that is at work on earth. It is at times used in order to show the wonderful gift that the Lord had given to the Church through salvation. The Church invokes the power of God through the Magnificat in prayer sessions where the devil is to be revoked. It is believed that the devils are afraid when the powerful words of Mary through the Magnificat are proclaimed. Mary acknowledged that the power of God is manifested when he puts forth his arms and scatters those who are proud hearted.

Question Two: Bible Oratory

First Sermon by Surber (2009)

Surber (2009) begins by acknowledging the humble nature of Mary. The sermon calls on all Christians to follow on the example of Mary of being humble and practice true humility as demonstrated by Mary in the song of praise. Surber (2009) further notes that this is the only way through which an individual can be blessed. However, the author states that despite the song of praise by Mary being worth of praise and honor, there is a danger that comes with spiritualizing it. It is through the power of the Almighty that the mighty and powerful will be brought low. A new dimension is noted by Surber (2009) who in quoting the Archbishop of Canterbury warned the missionaries on reading the Magnificat in Public. The main reason why this was not to be was that Christians were already facing persecution. The Magnificat narrates the reasons why Jesus has come on earth and that is to lead the revolution. It is however true that not all people were willing to accept the message of Magnificat, such as the rulers who felt threatened.

Jesus is therefore the master who is coming who will raise the lowly and thwart the mighty as highlighted by Mary. Surber (2009) notes that the words of Mary can be compared to the narration of David in Psalm (103:1) where David calls upon his soul to praise the Lord. The song of Mary, according to Surber (2009) is no different. It is what God was beginning o do for humanity that Surber (2009) notes as the cause of Mary’s joy, wonder and awe. The meaning of why Jesus has come into the world can be found in the song of Magnificat. The sermon states that God will never forget those who revere him in their humble state just as Mary did. However, God decided to stoop low through the song in order to experience what humanity goes through. It is only then that he could have made them feel that he was part of them. The sermon further notes that the compassion of God has surpassed the understanding of men. It therefore represents the great reality of God’s mercy in his coming as flesh. The song of praise is a different human perspective that needs to realize that God does not hold back on his promises for humanity. HE advocated that he will meet the world in their sinful state and brokenness.

The Second Sermon by Rush (2001)

Mary sings to the nations about the need to rejoice and remain hopeful. Rush (2001) notes that Mary lived at a time when people were going through hard times. The common characteristics those days were violence, arbitrary violence and suffering and yet we find Mary who is still hopeful. In addition, the ear when Jesus was born experienced oppression, poverty and injustice. It was at this point that Mary discovered the message by the angel and which had been narrated long time ago was coming into fulfillment. The idea and suffering that the people of her time were going through was finally being overcome by the person of Jesus. There was no better way for her to express her joy about the marvels of the Lord. The Magnificat therefore represents a song of new dawn that proclaims hope for those who had already lost it. It has been narrated to who that God’s blessing comes in the midst of tragedy and that his hand is not too short to bless. The author reflects on the site of the Twin Towers and how the large piece of girded steel found within the remaining materials was venerated to symbolize a sign of hope. This is the same message that the song of Magnificat holds for all believers. Rush (2001) states that it is also a sign of God’s presence among his people.

The days of Mary were quite challenging and there is something quite special about the way she responded to the message by the angel. Rush (2001) acknowledges that it is difficult for people to see hope when they have already given up on hope. In addition, people who have passed on from one difficulty to the other just like the Israelites did will find it hard to believe if hope ever exists. However, one should not despair to the point of giving up and Rush (2001) states that Mary’s song can be compared as a sign of God acting through people to give food to the hungry, bring comfort to those who are undergoing painful situations as well as demonstrate the loving compassion of God. The message of Mary, according to Rush (2001), represents the human face of Jesus which all human beings should emulate. It is a face that explains the meaning of love and support to those who are looked down upon. The season when the sermon was being proclaimed was a time when people wanted hope. It calls upon the faithful never to look further than God and remember that God reminds the people that salvation will always come upon them.

The Third Sermon by Piper (1980)

The Third Sermon by Piper (1980), states that Mary demonstrated her human side when she questioned whether the message by the angel was going to pass. Mary joins with the magnificent praise of the angels on how God was about to change the case of history. Piper (1980) states that human beings had gone through a difficult moment in the past three decades but the new world will no longer reflect that hardship that the nations had gone through. The author further notes that God is now demonstrating himself among two women, one who is old (Elizabeth) and the other one being Mary. Mary praises God that he still recognizes the lowly and hence the reason she breaks into song and jubilation. Piper (1980) acknowledges that God appreciated the faith that existed among women and this is the reason why he chose the two women as the manifestation of his plan for humanity. The only people with the ability to appreciate and acknowledge the Lord are people like Mary and Elizabeth. The Godliness state of Mary can also be related to the song of Hannah in the Old Testament. The song of Mary represents the continued history that existed in the Old Testament.

Historical and Cultural background

Mary notes that God has accepted to visit humanity through a culture that had been looked down upon as inferior. According to Berger et al (2006), Jews remains a race that was greatly despised from olden times. This hate can be associated with the great persecution with which the Jews had to encounter during the 1930s at the hand of Hitler. This is the same situation that existed during the time of Mary. It was a common factor for people to believe that noting good could have come out of a Jew. This is why nothing much was known about Mary because no one was concerned of putting down information with regard to a Jew. Mary however became part of the entire world because God intervened to a society that was being despised. Mary being a Jew grew up in an isolated town where she learnt more about how the Jews were being looked down upon.

It is also evident in the song of Mary, which can be described as Mary’s song of thanksgiving as having some of the features Hebrews scriptures. As a woman of Nazareth, Mary had to follow all the traditions that were required of a woman in that area. As noted by Conradie (2008), Mary’s philosophy that influenced her song can be associated with her insight on reflecting and reading the Torah as well as acknowledging the role of the prophets in olden times. This is why Mary acclaims that what God had promised in olden times to the prophets and in Torah was being fulfilled in her. It therefore demonstrates that Mary was well aware of what God had promised to the people from the day of creation and how he would reveal himself to them again. The song of Mary is a fulfillment of the promise that God had made to the Jew.

Mary was always expected to keep the binding words of the Torah in all that she does. In addition, we see how she was shocked to reveal what she had to Joseph who was about to marry her. According to her Jewish customs, it was wrong for any woman to conceive without having intercourse with a man. There was harsh consequence for anyone who was found to have committed this sin and Joseph did not want to shame her as noted in the Gospels. This is why he decided to leave her in secret. Mary demonstrates the culture of the Jews which shows that every person and especially women to be submissive, obedient and docile to people in authority. Therefore, Jews already plan for their daughter whom she will get married to and further illustrates how women had no influence in the choices that they were making. They were like slaves to all the people entrusted to make choices. This can be the other reason why she sings that God has looked down upon her lowly servant.

Peters (2012), notes that in the past, God had used men like Noah, Abraham and Moses to create a covenant with the people. This can also explain why women in olden Jewish tradition were looked down upon. In addition, Peters (2012) states that even though God had addressed himself to various women in the Bible, the grace and honor that had been given to Mary had not yet been seen before. It is now a change of tradition among the Jewish people that God can also demonstrate his power by using a woman to seal his new covenant with the people. The name given to Mary in her olden tradition illustrated her place but now the angel greeted her with a new name and this signifies that women have acquired a new status as Mary rejoices in wonder. Paul in some of his letters demonstrates the nature of Mary and calls her a woman born under the law. The name of a woman in the Jewish tradition was important and that’s why it was always mentioned. It is quite the opposite with the honor given in calling a person with his or her name. Mary’s song of Magnificat represents how God was going to use a lineage that had been abandoned to save the world.

The tradition among the Jewish people hold that the prophet Isaiah had already noted that God was going to use a woman, a rear occurrence in history, to bridge the covenant between man and himself. Jesus too, who was going to be born of Mary, was going to be under the law. This was the same law that Mary had grown up observing and which gave little opportunity to women. The opposition was not only to women alone but to the Jews as a whole. It is an opposition that existed before the birth of Christ. This is why many authors have acknowledged that the Jews had made enemies with various nations across the world. The song of Magnificat is a good indication that the rejected society like the Jews is the same community that presented the savior of the world. In retaliation, many rulers continue to reject the savior as having come from such a low community as it was known in the past (Wright, 2004).

The stories in the Bible that narrate how Jesus encountered Jews and dines with them shows how the Pharisees and the Scribes became furious at the mention of such interactions. Mary therefore rejoices that the age where her people had suffered will no longer exist and the new age that comes through Jesus Christ will bring justice to those who have been oppressed with the law. The culture that looked down women in Jewish traditions and belief can now experience transformation thanks to the saving work of Jesus Christ (Oxford University Press, 2006). The voice of Mary in her song of praise resembles an age that is being liberated from the olden ways of being despised. Jesus, speaking through Mary in Magnificat reminds the nations that a new age has finally come into the world. The old law is now passing away and that the position of women in the salvation of man must enlightened all people on the need for equality.

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