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The Magnificat – Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Song of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Magnificat
Song of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Magnificat
The Visitation. Beautiful icon of the Virgin Mary and Her cousin Elizabeth

The Magnificat is a canticle, also known as the Song of Mary, the Canticle of Mary and, in the Byzantine tradition, the Ode of the Theotokos. The text of the canticle is taken directly from the Gospel of Luke (1:46–55) where it is spoken by Mary upon the occasion of her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth.

An explanation of the Canticle Magnificat is given below from the “Devout instructions on the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays and holydays” by Leonard Goffiné (1648-1719).

In this hymn Mary with joy praises God, the Lord, that He has regarded her humility, and made her to be the Mother of His only-begotten Son, wherefore she should be called blessed by all generations; and she declares the truths and mysteries which the incarnation brought to light.

The mercy of God, namely, reaches from generation to generation to them that fear Him. He scatters the thoughts of the proud, and puts down from their seats the mighty; but He exalts the humble. He fills those who hunger for justice with good things, but those who think themselves rich He sends away empty. He receives all true Israelites, and performs in them the promises which He gave to the fathers.

This hymn is repeated by the Church every day at Vespers, in praise of the work of redemption, begun by the incarnation of the Son of God in Mary. Would that every Christian, since he becomes one only by Christ being, as it were, born in him, might share those feelings which the Blessed Virgin and Mother has expressed in this hymn of praise, and, with the Church, daily praise God for the mystery of the incarnation.

The Magnificat in Latin and English Translation

Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum.
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
Et exultávit spíritus meus: in Deo salutári meo. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
Quia respéxit humilitátem ancíllae suae: Because He hath regarded the humility of His slave:
Ecce enim ex hoc beátam me dicent omnes generatiónes.
For behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Quia fécit mihi mágna qui pótens est: et sánctum nómen eius. Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is His name.
Et misericórdia eius in progénies et progénies timéntibus eum. And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him.
Fécit poténtiam in bráchio suo: dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui.
He hath shewed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
Depósuit poténtes de sede: et exaltávit húmiles. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis: et dívites dimísit inánes. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum: recordátus misericórdiae suae. He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy:
Sicut locútus est ad patres nostros: Ábraham, et sémini eius in saecula.
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto, Glory be the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forever and ever, Amen.

Magnificat chanted by the Daughters of Mary

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