THE NATIVITY REPERTOIRE
“And Mary said, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, . . .'” – Luke 1:46a (TNIV)
In the Advent and Christmas seasons, music abounds. One can hear songs about winter, family, presents, and decorations. In the grocery store or mall familiar carols are being played as shoppers find gifts for loved ones. Indeed, the music repertoire of the season is really quite extensive and prominent.
When we turn our focus to the nativity narrative in the first two chapters of Luke’s gospel, we find music abounds as well. Luke’s distinctive birth account of Jesus is punctuated with songs from Mary, Zechariah, Simeon, and the angels. In fact, it is hard to find such a concentration of song, praise, liturgy, and adoration anywhere else in the New Testament!
In Mary’s song, (Luke 1:46-55) known as the Magnificat (from the Latin ‘to magnify’), we find an exquisite model of an Advent song. The themes of the Magnificat include worship, exultation, salvation, deliverance, submission, assurance, trust, faith, and celebration of God’s redemptive acts in salvation history.
Much of the Magnificat is written in the perfect tense in Greek. This grammatical construction signifies a past completed action that has ongoing or enduring consequences. Imagine a young teenage girl who finds herself carrying a child of divine conception yielding herself to the perfect will of God and singing with unwavering confidence that what had been promised by God had already come to pass! What a wonderful example of faith and assurance in the will of God!
As we celebrate this Advent season, let us sing like Mary with a nativity repertoire that appropriates these great themes of the entrance of Christ into the world. And may God grant us grace to sing like Mary this day and every day! Amen.
Dr. Keith Wells is the Chaplain for Canto Deo and also a Professor at Denver Seminary.