Each holiday season, music artists release tunes from different genres in hopes of adding their voices to existing classics. Some are songs for the church, while other secular selections jingle their way into worship services.
One sacred song that some might overlook is a passionate solo offered millennia ago by a young woman whose life changed after hearing the words: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary’s Song of Praise, or the Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55, is a song we might not hear piped into department stores or malls.
It is a hymn holding together the small and the great, the birth of a baby to a young woman with no pedigree. God gives a special assignment and lyrics to an ordinary person.
Mary sings in the presence of her cousin Elizabeth after she accepts her divine assignment. The engaged virgin girl would not give birth to an ordinary baby, but to the fulfillment of Israel’s promise.
Words and phrases used throughout the text recall the tradition of the Israelites’ victory songs and hymns of praise. We learn God accomplishes the liberation of his people by “scattering the proud” and “putting down the mighty from their thrones.”
What God does for Mary shows us what God will do for the poor, the powerless and the oppressed of the world. She sings how God liberates the lowly in the midst of existing and future conflict. Some of us know a little something about conflict and can scan the pages of this publication or watch CNN if a reminder is needed.
Mary is singing at a time when there is little to sing about. God had been silent for 400 years. I am guessing Satan thought he would retain his post as choirmaster and DJ controlling the turntables of the world, using people as pawns in his game of musical chairs.
However, Mary’s song announces the arrival of a new mixmaster on the scene. Isaiah 9:6 tells us “he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Months later, the baby from Mary’s womb will be placed in a manger, but after preaching, healing, delivering and setting captives free he will find himself on a rugged cross. Months from now we will sing very different songs to observe that moment in history.
I love the grand selection of holiday music offered during this season, but Mary’s hymn reminds me help is on the way! As a child, I loved singing about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but as an adult I take delight in declaring Jesus as the light of the world. Because of the gift in Mary’s womb I can now dance, dream, preach, sing and tell a dying world that there is hope!
This Christmas, if I don’t get one gift I have hinted at thus far, I am grateful that I will forever have a song.
THE REV. ARLECIA D. SIMMONS IS AN ASSOCIATE MINISTER AT TABERNACLE BAPTIST CHURCH IN AUGUSTA.