Lesson: Luke 1:46-55
The people of God sing. In the Old and New Testaments, people sing in joy and sorrow, praise and lament. Music is God’s gift to us and in our congregation, we have a long history of appreciating the way music can stir us in a way words alone cannot. And so twice each year we hear the Word of God proclaimed through music – once in the spring and once in December.
Today our New Testament proclamation is in Rutter’s Magnificat. Also known as the Song of Mary, the text for the Magnificat is from Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Luke, verses 46 through 55. After learning from the angel Gabriel that she will bear the child who will be God’s son, Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. In spite of her advanced years, Elizabeth is pregnant with the child who will grow to be John the Baptist. When Mary speaks to Elizabeth, the child moves within Elizabeth’s womb. Elizabeth praises Mary for her faith, and Mary responds by singing the Magnificat. It’s a joyful song about a whole new order of things: the lowly will be lifted, the proud will be scattered.
John Rutter has said that his intention was to write a Magnificat that suggests Mediterranean sunshine and celebration. The work is full of energetic, syncopated rhythms and strong melodies. Rutter’s inspiration for the work ranges from Bach’s Magnificat to Gregorian chant to Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.” Rutter describes it as having a sense of things Spanish, to be sung, he says, with a little bit of hip swinging. The opening pulls no punches in letting us know this is a joyful work of music. Rutter says he was going after some sense of how Mary herself would have heard it, sung it, felt it.
Our Advent theme this year is “Be Still and Know…,” quoting Psalm 46. It is intended as an antidote or even a resistance to the too busy and too much of the holiday season in our culture. So – enough of words, already. Be still, and hear and feel the joy of the Magnificat.
The music from our 2013-12-08 Rutter Magnificat Service has been been uploaded. A player set to start at the Magnificat is at http://www.divshare.com/download/24875697-d68.
To begin playing a selection, click on its name in the list that is within the embedded player. To expose the music before the Magnificat, use the tiny scroll bar within the player. As the end of each selection is reached, the player will continue by playing the next.
You can also listen to the audio playback of the Magnificat on our audio sermon page: http://www.togetherweserve.org/sermon-audio/
 After escaping from the Egyptians and crossing the Red Sea, the people of Israel sang a song to the Lord (Exodus 15). Singing was part of Israel’s formal worship in both tabernacle and temple (1 Chronicles 6:31-32, 16:42). The Psalms bear rich testimony that in joy and sorrow, in praise and lament, the faithful raise their voices in song to God. Jesus and his disciples sang hymns (Matthew 26:30). The Apostle Paul instructed the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:16-17). https://www.rca.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=1863.
 Rutter on the Magnificat, http://www.johnrutter.com/video/john-rutter-on-the-magnificat-1-magnificat-anima-mea/.