Commentary: "Song of Mary"

In Luke 1:46-55, we read what has been called the Magnificat or Mary's Song, the words of a young virgin that have been sung for two millennia and will continue to be sung throughout eternity. Though we do not know much about her, I suspect she was strong in the natural. Mary probably lived a simple life, carrying water from the town well to her home, helping her mother around the house and the rest of the family in the fields, until she was to marry a carpenter. But I suspect she was also strong in the spiritual, growing up in a devout Jewish home where the language of Hebrew Scriptures was recited daily.

Then one day an angel visited Mary (Luke 1:26-38). This did not cause her to burst into song but, rather, it troubled her. Mary quietly asked how she could conceive a son without having had sexual relations. She might have worried about the reactions of Joseph (Matthew 1:18-19) and others (Mark 6:3). We cannot know all her thoughts, but clearly she was overwhelmed. So Mary hastily went to see her older cousin and confidante Elizabeth, who was miraculously pregnant herself and confirmed what the angel had said (Luke 1:41-42). It was not angelic visitation but affectionate affirmation that set her heart singing.

We are all called, from time to time, to be an Elizabeth to others. When people have an inward conviction they have heard from God, they often need some outward confirmation (Romans 8:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1). Mary knew what the angel had said; Elizabeth confirmed it saying, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" Mary replied, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." If you question whether a relatively uneducated teenage Jewess could have given us such a masterpiece, consider "The Diary of a Young Girl" written by Anne Frank during World War II.

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