O Rex Gentium
O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.
O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Blessed are you, Sovereign God of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In your tender compassion
the dawn from on high is breaking upon us
to dispel the lingering shadows of night.
As we look for your coming among us this day,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.
Mary’s Song of Praise
And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.
One of the most loved services in the Church of England is the service of Evensong. Within that service lies Mary’s Song of Praise, the Magnificat. If you spent your younger years singing in a church or cathedral choir you will be very familiar with the words of the Magnificat, although probably in the version that is found in the Book of Common Prayer. Every day of the year these words are recited or sung as a daily reminder of the response we should be offering to God’s presence in our lives.
The Magnificat opens with Mary’s words of praise and thanksgiving for all that God is working through her. She goes on to give us a glimpse of the world that will come into being through the birth of her Son, a world in which those who hold and value worldly power will be overthrown, a world in which there will be hope for all.
When we are overcome with joy we often feel like bursting into song, but what songs do we sing? Couples have that ‘special song’ that reminds them of the time they met; sports fans have their favourite songs that help them celebrate moments of elation, or despair; nations have their anthems that help them to establish their unique identity in the world. Whatever song you may feel like singing when overcome with joy, does it really match the praise and hope that we find in Mary’s Song of Praise?
Too often we refrain from expressing our joy in song, or in other ways that demonstrate the feelings that are surging through us. We look around us and think about the reactions of others. We might use an excuse like, ‘I can’t sing,’ or we might just choose to remain dumb, rather than let anyone know how we really feel. Today we see the young Mary, the one who is to become the mother of Our Lord, burst into a spontaneous song as she gives thanks and looks forward in hope. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus in the coming days, let us pray that we might not keep our joy to ourselves, but might let it pour out of us … even in song!
Watchful at all times, let us pray for strength to stand with confidence before our Maker and Redeemer.
That God may bring in his kingdom with justice and mercy, let us pray to the Lord.
That God may establish among the nations his sceptre of righteousness, let us pray to the Lord.
That we may seek Christ in the scriptures and recognize him in the breaking of the bread, let us pray to the Lord.
That God may bind up the broken hearted, restore the sick and raise up all who have fallen, let us pray to the Lord.
That the light of God’s coming may dawn on all who live in darkness and the shadow of death, let us pray to the Lord.
That, with all the saints in light, we may shine forth as lights for the world, let us pray to the Lord.
Let us commend the world, which Christ will judge, to the mercy and protection of God.
as your kingdom dawns,
turn us from the darkness of sin to the
light of holiness,
that we may be ready to meet you
in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Uniting our prayers with the whole company of heaven,
let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon us,
scatter the darkness from before our path,
and make us ready to meet him when he comes in glory;
and may the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.
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