Music being the most direct route to my heart, I love Anglican musical traditions. Evensong, for example, with many gorgeous musical settings of the Magnificat, a centerpiece for this time of prayer.
“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”
Mary’s audacious proclamation from her place of low degree warns the high and mighty of their precariousness apart from a proper reverence for God’s favor to the humble and poor.
“He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”
Well-fed Episcopalians, including me, sing this text, sometimes wearing expensive liturgical garments and standing amid architectural finery. Ironic, no? That’s not lost on me, vested in cassock and surplice and tippet, swept up in the beauty of the plainsong while light from stained glass falls across the page of the score.
“…He has mercy on those who fear him, in every generation.”
The music evokes reverence and awe (or “fear”), as befits the contemplation of the Being in whom we have our being, whose essence is mercy.
We sing on:
“…for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and
his children forever.”
We are among that multitude, as numerous as grains of sand on the shore, as stars in the heavens. You and I and all the rest. Mercy is our inheritance.
Mary’s song has a sharp edge of warning against complacency, against a hard heart, against the delusions of power wielded without awe toward God’s mercy.
God is merciful. We’re bidden to let this truth transform us.
And so we sing:
“Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”
-Fr. Jonathan Weldon