69

My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout (Luke 1:46-55)

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 is paralleled by the song of Hannah in I Samuel 2:1-10.
In stanza 2 we sing that though we are small, God does great work in us. Paul, in I Corinthians 1:26-31 reflects on the same for the Corinthians.
When stanza 4 points to the raging of the nations, we may well  hear the words of Psalm 2.
When the refrain looks for the “turning” of the world, we think of how the apostles were described in Acts 17:5-9 as “troublers” who “turned the world upside down”.

Call to Worship

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.
We rejoice in the hope of Christ’s coming.
Let us worship God!
—based on Philippians 4:4-5, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
As we enter this season of Advent,
may the love of God the Father, and the grace of Jesus the Son,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with us all.
Amen!
[Reformed Worship 57:4]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Words of Praise

A prayer especially mindful of children
King of glory, you are God.
You are powerful.
You rule the entire world.
We praise you because you are so great.
But you became a baby.
You were tiny and weak.
You were just like us.
We praise you because you came,
and we look forward to when you will come again.
In your name we pray. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Confession

If we look at our own lives,
we must confess the mixture of giving and selfishness,
our waiting on the Lord turned to an endless rush,
our missing the mark of Advent.
Lord, forgive our frantic ways and misplaced efforts.
But we can also trust in God,
who still brings us salvation,
who still supplies us strength,
who hears our songs of gratitude,
who accepts our joyful praise.
Let us all draw water from the wells of salvation.
Let us shout it in church and in town:
The Lord’s great name will still be praised.
His saving deeds support our lives.
His greatness still astounds us.
The Holy One of Israel is among us.
Praise the Lord and sing for joy.
—based on Isaiah 12
[Reformed Worship 9:23]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Assurance

We are a people of hope
waiting for the return of our Lord.
God will renew the world through Jesus,
who will put all unrighteousness out,
purify the works of human hands,
and perfect our fellowship in divine love.
Christ will wipe away every tear;
death shall be no more.
There will be a new heaven and a new earth,
and all creation will be filled with God’s glory.
—from Our Song of Hope st. 1, 21
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

As followers of Jesus Christ,
living in this world—
which some seek to control,
and others view with despair—
we declare with joy and trust:
Our world belongs to God!
Remembering the promise
to reconcile the world to himself,
God joined our humanity in Jesus Christ—
the eternal Word made flesh.
He is the long-awaited Messiah,
one with us and one with God,
fully human and fully divine,
conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
We long for that day when our bodies are raised,
the Lord wipes away our tears,
and we dwell forever in the presence of God.
We will take our place in the new creation,
where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
and the Lord will be our light.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
With the whole creation we join the song:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
He has made us a kingdom of priests to serve our God,
and we will reign on earth.
God will be all in all,
righteousness and peace will flourish,
everything will be made new,
and every eye will see at last
that our world belongs to God.
Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus!

—from Our World Belongs to God, st. 1, 23, 56, 58
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Tune Information

Name
STAR OF COUNTY DOWN
Key
e minor or modal
Meter
8.6.8.6 D refrain 9.8.10.8

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

While this tune isn’t difficult to learn, it isn’t entirely familiar (though the style may be accessible to many, given the growing popularity of Irish folk bands in recent years). The other issue is the wordiness of the stanzas; a congregation could slow this down too much trying to get the words out. One way to introduce this into worship is to have a soloist (preferably a younger woman) sing the stanzas, and have everyone join in on the refrain. If you are reading the entire gospel account of Mary meeting Elizabeth, you might even have the soloist read Mary’s words in the first part of the Scripture, and then move directly into the hymn after Luke 1:45.
 
For accompaniment, it is important to keep the tune from getting bogged down. The congregation will, naturally, try to slow things down, but this tune, with this much text, especially needs to move forward. If you have fiddlers and flutists, this could be the time to put them to work in worship.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 93)
— James Hart Brumm

This is an Irish folk tune and one would do well to employ Irish traditional instruments such as a Celtic drum and a penny whistle. But it is more important to place the emphasis on the folk aspects of the tune rather than get hung up on “Irish performance practice.” The music translates well to almost any folk genre—the more primitive and unadorned, the better. If piano accompaniment is used, one could emphasize the rhythmic harmonic progression. Once the melody is established by the singers, percussively strike each new chord. Steer clear of the sustain pedal. This can be contrasted with arpeggiated sections where the text calls for a less strident accompaniment.
 
One reason this tune is easy to learn is that it is closely related to another Irish tune; in fact, star of county down is a variant of kingsfold. “Canticle of the Turning” is found in many recent hymnals; this setting was taken from Renewing Worship 5: New Songs and Hymns (2003), a resource prepared by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) for provisional use as the ELCA prepares the next edition of their denominational Lutheran Book of Worship to succeed the ground-breaking 1978 edition. Cooney has also prepared a choral octavo on this hymn for SAB or unison, with guitar, optional piccolo, and violin (GIA, G-3407).
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 80)
— Martin Tel

The themes of this psalm are echoed in Mary’s song (the Magnificat), which is freely paraphrased in Cooney’s “Canticle of the Turning.” The canticle may be sung at the conclusion of the reading. In anticipation of the congregation’s singing, a soloist could sing just the refrain at the beginning of the reading and after vv. 3, 5, and 8. Accompany the canticle with raucous keyboard accompaniment and djembe.

Whereas most settings of Mary’s Song, the Magnificat, portray Mary as a frightened young girl, Rory Cooney’s “Canticle of the Turning” gives the impression of Mary as a teenage rebel, rolling up her sleeves and saying, “Let’s do this thing.” Given the themes of the Luke passage, this is perfectly good exegesis. Make sure your accompaniment is energetic enough to support the revolutionary fervor of the message.
— Greg Scheer

Hymn Story/Background

Rory Cooney named this song “The Canticle of the Turning.” The text is not only based on the Song of Mary, one of the three major canticles from the gospel of Luke, but also introduces uses a rhetorical device, or “hook” phrase that ends each stanza and the refrain, placing the incarnation of Jesus Christ at the crux of history. St. 1 asks, “Is the world about to turn?” St. 2-4 and the refrain end with an answer to that answer that question, ending, “Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn.” This song also anticipates the return of Christ and the promise of a day when all wil be made right, because “God…is turning this world around” (st. 4). The setting of this text to the Irish ballad tune STAR OF COUNTY DOWN has become very popular since it was first published in 1990 by GIA Publications, Inc.. 
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Rory Cooney (b. 1952) has been the director of liturgy and music ministries at St. Anne Catholic Community in Barrington, Illinois, since 1994. His published compositions span a career of songwriting that began nearly 35 years ago, and continues to the present, as he tries to write to the needs of the church and the communities in which he serves. Early compositions were published by Composers’ Forum for Catholic Worship and Resource Publications in the 1970’s, and his works are represented in Gather and RitualSong, as well as other publications.

His recording career began in 1984, and virtually all of his recordings have been collaborations with his wife, Theresa Donohoo, and Gary Daigle. His most recent work with GIA has been the collection "Today" and Terry Donohoo’s "Family Resemblance."

Rory travels with Theresa and Gary Daigle giving concerts, days of renewal, missions, and workshops for parishes, dioceses, and organizations.