O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
as Mary waited for the birth of your Son,
so we wait for his coming in glory;
bring us through the birth pangs of this present age
to see, with her, our great salvation
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Give praise, you servants of the Lord,
O praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
from this time forth and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
let the name of the Lord be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations
and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God, that has his throne so high,
yet humbles himself to behold the things of heaven and earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ashes,
To set them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a place in the house
and makes her a joyful mother of children.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
‘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 Elizabeth for about three months and then returned to her home.
One of the aspects of church life that has been put on hold over the last nine months has been the use of song in our worship and praise of God. All sorts of ingenious technical strategies have been employed to keep the singing going, but …! There is no doubt that we have all missed congregational singing … something that is going to make Christmas 2020 feel very strange indeed. Today’s reading serves to emphasize that sense of strangeness, and loss.
We know Mary’s words as The Magnificat, her great song of praise and hope which is repeated at Evening Prayer (or Evensong) every single day of the year. In cathedrals and parish churches alike it is sung in an increasingly inventive kaleidoscope of musical genres. Where there is not the capacity to sing, the words are repeated in the prayerful spirit in which they were first offered by the young and newly pregnant Mary. These words should never be said in a spirit of dutiful repetition because they are some of the most exciting and hopeful words of scripture. In these few verses, this paean of great praise and thankfulness, Mary sums up the realisation of God’s plan for humanity that will manifest itself in her, as yet, unborn child. Mary’s encounter with the angel and then with her elderly relative, Elizabeth, joined up the dots for this young woman, whose acquiescence to God’s plan was destined to change the course of human history. Mary saw and sang of that fulfilment of ancient divine promises.
Yesterday, I highlighted Mary’s self-giving response to God’s call in her life. Today, I am urging us all to set aside the negativity that has become associated with 2020 and join in Mary’s great song of praise, thankfulness and hope. We will not be able to gather and sing our Christmas carols this year, but that does not mean that we cannot sing in our hearts. Let us step outside our self-imposed feelings of hopelessness and join Mary as we sing loudly, lustily and with all our strength: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
Prayers of Intercession
Joyful in the presence of the Lord, let us pray for the Church and for the world.
Prepare the Church to receive with joy and thanksgiving the coming of the Lord at his Nativity. May all Christian people join with Mary his mother to proclaim his greatness.
Raise up the lowly ones of the world and give them fullness of life. Be merciful to those who are deceived by power and wealth. Do not send the rich away empty.
As we prepare again to celebrate this Christmas time, bless us, our families, friends and neighbours, with purity of spirit and holiness of desire. Shield us from selfish pleasure, make us mindful of the needs of many in our community.
We pray for all who are hungry, whether for food to sustain their bodies or faith to nourish their souls. Comfort and heal those who through sickness or poverty can feel little joy at this time.
We give thanks for the departed who have magnified their Lord on earth and now praise him in his heavenly kingdom. May they find their eternal joy in the company of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints.
We pray in the name of Christ, Son of God and son of Mary.
Prayer for the week
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance
and prepare the way of our salvation:
give us grace to heed their warnings
and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy
the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
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. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
With Mary let my soul rejoice,
and praise God’s holy name —
his saving love from first to last,
from age to age, the same!
How strong his arm, how great his power!
The proud he will disown;
the meek and humble he exalts
to share his glorious throne.
The rich our God will send away
and feed the hungry poor;
the arms of love remain outstretched
at mercy’s open door.
So shall God’s promise be fulfilled,
to Israel firmly made:
a child is born, a Son is given
whose crown will never fade.
All glory to the Father, Son
and Spirit now proclaim;
with Mary let the world rejoice
and praise God’s holy name!
David Mowbray (b. 1938)
based on Luke 1.46-55
(Magnificat, The Song of Mary)