Pray the Magnificat

A beautiful and compelling prayer to pray in Advent for yourself or those you love

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Posted in , Dec 19, 2014

The Virgin Mary praying. Photo by John Kelly, Thinkstock.

It is one of the oldest Christian hymns.

The Magnificat (also known in various church traditions as the Song of Mary, the Canticle of Mary and the Ode of the Theotokos) is the hymn recorded by the Gospel writer Luke as Mary’s response when her cousin Elizabeth praises her as “the mother of my Lord.” (Luke 1:43, ESV)

The title, “Magnificat,” comes from the first word in the Latin version (“magnificat” translates into English as “magnifies”).

And, while it is most commonly sung or recited in liturgical churches, it has also been prayed privately by Christians through the centuries and around the world:

My soul magnifies the Lord,

     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for he who is mighty has done great things for me,

    and holy is his name.

And his mercy is for those who fear him

    from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;

    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

he has brought down the mighty from their thrones

    and exalted those of humble estate;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

    and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

    in remembrance of his mercy,

as he spoke to our fathers,

    to Abraham and to his offspring forever. (Luke 1:46-55, ESV)

It is a wonderfully appropriate prayer to pray during Advent, of course, as we anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth, when all the things Mary rejoiced in were fulfilled in the Nativity.

It also makes a beautiful and compelling prayer to pray for yourself or those you love, particularly if you adapt the words to your own situation, perhaps like this: 

My soul magnifies You, Lord,

     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

Thank You for looking on my humble estate!

    Thank You for blessing me and mine through the submission of Mary

            and the incarnation of Jesus.

You have done great things for me,

    and holy is Your name.

Your mercy has been poured out on me,

    and to the next generation, too.

Show Your strength in my life and in the lives of those I love;

    Scatter the proud;

Bring down the mighty from their thrones

    and exalt the humble;

Fill the hungry with good things,

    and turn the hearts of the rich to be generous and kind.

Come to the aid of all Your servants, Lord;

    remember Your great mercy,

and speak as You spoke to our fathers,

    to Abraham and to his offspring. Amen.

That, of course, is just one way to pray the Magnificat.

Whether you pray it only in the words as they are recorded in the Bible or adapt the wording to fit to your present circumstances, it is a powerful prayer–and one that can add immensely to your Christmas celebration this year. 

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