THE MAGNIFICAT: The Virgin’s Hymn

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.

For behold, henceforth 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 on those who fear him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”

Luke 1:46‭-‬55 RSV

Two thousand years have not dimmed the luster of this glorious chapter nor cast any shadow over the hard historical facts related therein, facts which have been etched into the conscience of all mankind and which are indelibly written into the pages of the world’s authentic records.

The account here was written by a brilliant physician, scientist and literary genius, following years of patient and thorough research, and who had the incomparable opportunity of examining all of the sources, written and oral, that had any bearing on the events narrated.

Luke’s vivid, scientific account is as far above the subjective guesses of modern scholars as the sun in heaven is above the mud-flats of earth.

If men would know what really happened at that pivotal point in history which would split all time into the two segments called B.C. and A.D., then let them read it here. This is what happened!


Verses 46-48 is the first of four divisions of the MAGNIFICAT. It details the joy, reverence, and gratitude of a person, counted by the world as lowly, and who refers to herself as a slave. It utters praise to God for what he has done for her.

The privilege which came to Mary dominates the thought. The prophecy that all generations should call her “blessed” was a true one, and it shows that she fully realized the world-shaking import of what God was doing through her.

It is inconceivable that any young girl, pregnant through some illicit relationship, could ever have thought any such thoughts as these, much less have composed an eternal poem to express them.

Verses 49-50 extol the power, the holiness, and the mercy of God, three of the great attributes of the Almighty. The words seem to reach a climax with reference to God’s mercy.

A particular aspect of that mercy was seen, and perhaps had already been realized by Mary, in the patient and understanding love of the incomparable Joseph who dared the scorn of all the world to maintain his patient place at the side of his beloved Mary.

This was mentioned by Matthew who recorded the story from the standpoint of Joseph; and, although Luke does not mention Joseph, approaching the narrative from another standpoint, the thought of Joseph surfaces in this song.

Verses 51-53 of this gracious hymn are the “dynamite” of the Christian religion which has wrought in the world a triple revolution:

  • He scatters the proud…
  • He cast down the mighty; he exalts the humble.
  • He has filled those who are hungry … those who are rich he hath sent empty away.

Thus, there is in this beautiful song a prophetic discerning of the immense consequences of the religion of Christ upon the earth.

Verses 54-55 of the first division of this matchless hymn, there was a stanza regarding the blessing and privilege that had come to Mary herself; in the second there was uttered a praise of the power, holiness, and mercy of God; in the third, there was prophesied the world consequences of the faith of Jesus Christ.

In this final stanza there was a connecting of the old and new covenants, a glimpse of the true Israel, the church, and the relation of all the redeemed to the old institution as the true spiritual seed of Abraham.

It may well be believed that the young girl who spoke these immortal lines in reality did not possess any complete knowledge of all their total meaning, any more than the other prophets before her (1 Peter 1:10-12); but it was given her to speak this hymn, even as it was given her to bear the flesh of the Son of the Most High!

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