December 14th – An Effusion: What Singing at the Advent of Our King!

Luke 1: 46—49:

And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord. And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of handmaidens.

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

They’re singing songs in Palestine! They can’t help it: canticles rise to their lips and to the ears of God spontaneously.

Gabriel twice has sung his sacred messages. Elizabeth breaks into song: “My soul magnifies the Lord!”

And that’s only the beginning.

Soon the mute Zechariah will do more than utter prosaic sentences; he’ll sing a Benedictus at the birth of his son, the prophet of the Most High.

Then Gabriel will return to chant good news to the shepherds, and straightway he’ll be joined by the whirling hosts of heaven, the angels of God in thunderous chorus: Gloria in Excelsis!

And still the people of Palestine sing—in older broken tones: for Simeon has a closing hymn, the Nunc Dimmittis of his personal departure.

Altogether they create a thrilling exchange between heaven and earth. Oh!—I wish I could hear the antiphony. Gabriel and all the angels descending; earthbound throats whose songs ascend to heaven, worshipers not recalling some wonderful moment, but living the moment, knowing the moment, responding in the extremes of human awareness and art and high articulation.

O Lord, you are the musician, and we all your instruments. You breathe, and we come to life. You breathe, and we are horns for your glory. You blow through the world the winds of the spirit, and we like chimes cannot keep silent. You pluck the strings of our hearts, and we become a psalm.

You come, and we must sing.

And now your Son is entering here, our dirty sphere, voiding himself of power to be born in human form. The hand of heaven is touching people as it never has before! Mary can’t help it. The cause of song is in her womb. She is transfigured. And if the woman had been born with the voice of frog, it doesn’t matter: she is God’s minstrel now.

My soul magnifies the Lord,

And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden . . .

Holy is his name!

We will sing carols again this Christmas.

Fill them, O Jesus!

Fill our hearts with your love.

Fill our songs with windy Spirit.

Let nothing we sing be empty or noxious or foolish or false.

For if you will be the cause of our carols,

then we will have joined the heavenly choirs.

We, with Mary, may be transported,

and joy will shed joy on everyone.


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