The Bible readings for today are 1 Samuel 1.24-28; Psalm 113; Luke 1.46-56.

I have long been intrigued by the fact that the revolutionary words of the Magnificat (Luke 1.46-55) have been set to such beautiful music. Oh I know, the words are beautiful too but they surely pose a challenge to the very classes that might be most expected to enjoy the music. Then again, I suppose terms like ‘the rich’ are always relative. When we sing ‘the rich he has sent empty away’ we can assume it refers to people other than ourselves. Of course, it always helps if the most threatening lyrics remain in Latin.

Well, the Magnificat, in any language, is a marvellous ancient hymn, steeped in the language of the Old Testament and taken up so powerfully on the lips of Mary. Despite what I say above, I am a fan of many of its choral arrangements. I like Monteverdi’s setting, and, of course, Bach’s and I am keen on Arvo Part’s (though I am not quite sure what it has to do with 1950s Philadelphia in this video).

In church we have been singing David Mowbray’s, ‘With Mary let my soul rejoice’ to North Bailey by Peter Morger (No 197 in Sing Praise). This is a great hymn but I cannot find a recording of it anywhere. Is anybody else singing it?

Why not click on the links and enjoy some music, but, please, think about those words too!

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