I listened to this rendition of Mary's song, the Magnificat while writing this post. If you are inclined to this kind of music, perhaps listen and see if hearing these words through music enhances its impact.
Jesus' Scriptures were that of the Old Testament and the authors of the New Testament were familiar with the Scriptures in our Old Testament. We see many links between the two and this is especially seen in the beautiful language in the Song of Hannah from 1 Samuel and the Song of Mary in Luke. These Scriptures have lasted for thousands of years and point to something eternal.
I love the narrative of Samuel. It is some of the most complex literature of the Old Testament but the stories are fascinating. We have read about Hannah who is barren in an age when a woman's worth was directly tied to her fertility. She cries out to the Lord in anguish and God responds. We do not always receive such a tangible response but notice Hannah's reaction. She says or sings this ancient hymn. Perhaps, think of it this way. If we win a national championship, perhaps we start singing Queen's "We are the champions." Hannah's joy bursts out in these magnificent lyrics.
Mary is confronted with the impossible as well. She has not "known" a man and is engaged to Joseph. Yet, the angel of the Lord delivers the news to her that she will give birth to Jesus. Mary, echoing Hannah's song sings in exultation! This is one of the most gorgeous passages we have in the New Testament and, while we are not able to put into words the joy given to us through the announcement that God will become incarnate, these words will have to do!
Look at the parallels below and especially the themes of God exalting the lowly. Those who are derided by society are lifted up. This is the gift given through God throughout generations and is the message in this hymn that points towards not an original author, but the founder of the gift...God. This is the promise given to us when we are brought low by life (which has and will continue to happen). God will lift us up!
These two pieces of Scripture are wonderful sources of joy in times of joy and in times of sorrow. You are invited to mark them and come back to them when they are needed as medicine for the soul.
Hannah's Song - 1 Samuel 2
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my[b] victory.
2 “There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.
9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail.
10 The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;
the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,
and exalt the power of his anointed.”
Mary's Song (Magnificat) Luke 1
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”