This Sunday in worship we will hear the familiar words of the Magnificat, the song of Mary found in the first chapter of the gospel of Luke. “My soul magnifies the Lord,” the young and pregnant Mary sings after visiting with her older and also pregnant relative, Elizabeth. Mary has traveled to Elizabeth’s home, and she hears God’s blessing from Elizabeth’s lips. In response, Mary sings.
Rolf Jacobson, Professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary, suggests that the Magnificat was a song shared by many people. When Mary experienced deep need and deeply needed blessing, she responded by singing a song she and her community had known for years.
I find this possibility especially meaningful because there have been times when I’ve faced challenges and found myself singing a hymn with sustaining words and tune. During a particularly stressful episode, I heard the words of “It Is Well” crossing my lips, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll…”
This week, while thinking of Mary and Elizabeth, I looked out my office window and saw these two women. I wondered where they came from and how long they had been there. What were they talking about? Were they happy or sad, grieving or celebrating? Were they simply living through another day?
Almost as quickly as they came, they were gone. Since I saw them, I have wondered: if they sang a song, what might it be? And, would I know any songs they might sing?