Monday, April 28, 2014

Worshipping alongside Mary's Magnificat

Luke records Mary’s famous hymn, the Magnificat, in Luke 1:46–55. Mary’s hymn should be categorized as a hymn of praise or thanksgiving and as such has many parallels in the book of Psalms. Hymns of praise begin by praising or extolling God and proceed by giving reasons for the praise; these reasons are often introduced with the words “for” or “because.” This pattern is well illustrated by Psalm 117: “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117:1–2).

Mary began her hymn by praising God: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46–47). Following this introduction of praise, the rest of the Magnificat provides the reasons for Mary’s praise of God. The first three reasons have to do with Mary’s personal situation, while the remaining reasons focus on what God was accomplishing through the birth of her child. The reasons for praise focus briefly on God’s attributes—his might, holiness, and mercy—but primarily highlight God’s actions. These actions are centered on the help God was about to provide for Israel in response to the promises he had made to Abraham and his offspring.

The Magnificat provides us with a model of praise and worship. What would it look like for you to compose a similar hymn? How would you express your praise and thanks to God for sending Jesus and bringing salvation through him and what reasons would you give for your praise (using “for” or “because”)? What attributes or actions of God would you highlight?