212. Song of Mary

Text Information
First Line: My spirit glorifies the Lord
Title: Song of Mary
Versifier: Dewey Westra (1931)
Meter: LM
Scripture: Luke 1:46-55; Luke 1:55
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Abraham; Comfort & Encouragement
Source: Psalter Hymnal 1987, rev.
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Name: PENTECOST
Composer: William Boyd (1868)
Meter: LM
Key: F Major


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Luke 1:46-48
st. 2 = Luke 1:48-49
st. 3 = Luke 1 :50-51
st. 4 = Luke 1:52-53
st. 5 = Luke 1 :54-55

The Song of Mary recorded in Luke 1 :46-55 is the first of the three "great" canticles recorded in Luke 1 and 2. It features similarities to the Song of Hannah (158) and echoes many other Old Testament passages. Commonly known as the Magnificat (after its Latin incipit), Mary's song is a bold text uttered by a young woman who wasn't supposed to become pregnant–and yet it compares in many ways with an Old Testament song uttered by a woman (Hannah) who at first couldn't become pregnant. Mary's song has all the characteristics of a psalm of thanksgiving, praising God for his mighty acts of salvation, for being merciful toward the poor and hungry and humble, and for being faithful to his people. In 1931 Dewey Westra (PHH 98) versified Mary's song in Detroit for the 1934 Psalter Hymnal. The text was revised by the Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee for the 1987 edition. A hymnic paraphrase of Mary's song is at 478, and a canonic setting is at 622.

Liturgical Use:
Advent; Christmas; occasions of thanksgiving for God's grace. In churches that have daily prayer services, this canticle is sung during evening prayer.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

William Boyd (b. Montego Bay, Jamaica, 1847; d. Paddington, England, 1928) composed PENTECOST in 1864 for the hymn text "Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire"; it was published in 1868 in Thirty-Two Hymn Tunes Composed by Members of the University of Oxford. The name PENTECOST derives from the subject matter of that hymn text. Boyd was educated at Hurstpierpoint, where the hymn writer Sabine Baring-Gould (PHH 522) was one of his teachers, and at Worcester College, Oxford. He was ordained in the Church of England and served the Church of All Saints, Norfolk Square, London, from 1893-1918.

The tune PENTECOST was retained from the 1959 Psalter Hymnal, though Dewey Westra originally versified Mary's song for the tune DUKE STREET (412). The humble, meditative character of PENTECOST stands in contrast to the spirit of rejoicing found in DUKE STREET and the settings at 478 and 622. The text can also be sung to PUER NOBIS (327). A simple chant-like tune with a range of only five tones in the melody, PENTECOST is one of the "generic" Victorian tunes of its time (see also QUEBEC, 141, 307; ST. CRISPIN, 276; MORECAMBE 419; and MARYTON, 573). Sing it in harmony, perhaps unaccompanied, but with a firm pulse and not too slowly.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


Media
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