The Song of Mary
Mary gets quite a bit of credit for her faith - and rightly so. She had been delivered a piece of news that was startling on at least two fronts: that she, a virgin, would give birth to a child and that she, of all women, had been chosen to be the mother of the promised Messiah. Her Spirit-worked response certainly is praiseworthy: “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).
But as much as we admire her faith, we ought to admire her song. The words are familiar to us because they have found a place in the pattern of worship Christians have used for centuries. And the circumstances in which those words were delivered make her song truly remarkable.
Mary’s song was first delivered in connection with her visit to Elizabeth. Immediately preceding this song, Elizabeth had called Mary blessed three separate times (twice in v. 42, once in v. 45). Elizabeth’s words are also familiar to us, but not for a good reason. They are used by many to address prayers to Mary. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”
Far from finding any fault with Elizabeth’s words, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit (v. 41). However, if ever there were an opportunity for a young girl to get caught up in the moment, this was probably it. She had recently received incredible news. She had just heard high praise from her relative Elizabeth.
And yet, far from taking a single ounce of credit for herself, her response is to magnify the Lord. It starts with the very first word of the song, the word from which we get the song’s common name, Magnificat. It continues throughout every line. Nearly every phrase of the song begins with “he” or “his.” Mary’s focus is on the great things that God has done not only for her but for every generation of God’s people.
While we aren’t explicitly told that Mary’s song was inspired by the Holy Spirit in the way that Elizabeth’s words were, we do know that her song was the product of the Spirit-worked faith in her heart. Its record in Luke’s Gospel is certainly the product of his Spirit-inspired authorship. What a blessing that we are still able to worship using the words of Mary’s song, a song that certainly assists us in worshiping the Father “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).