The Psalm of Mary, or Mary’s Magnificat

“My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

Thus spake the virgin Mary upon hearing of her grand calling to be the mother of the Savior of the world.  Her willingness to submit to the will of the Father and to magnify Him is one that any one of us can hope to emulate in our own ways.  And the song of praise that seems to burst forth from this young woman is one of the purest and humblest passages in all scripture (Luke 1:46-55).

The entire passage is referred to as the “Magnificat”, after the first word of the canticle in Latin, Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.  In it, Mary speaks of the true nature of God, and teaches us of the correct way to respond to Him.  When we look closely at the passage, each phrase is instructive.  Moreover, each one is echoed in other scripture.  Let us make a journey through Mary’s ten verses and several other scriptures of a similar nature.  In doing so we too can come closer to Mary’s understanding of God the Father and thus, like she, more readily trust in His power.

46   And Mary said,

My soul doth magnify the Lord

My soul delighteth to prophesy concerning [the Savior], for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name. (2 Nephi 25:13)

 

Let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (3 Nephi 12:16)

 

And whatsoever thing ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)

47   And my spirit hath rejoiced in the Lord my Savior.

And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord…; I rejoice in thy salvation.  There is none holy as the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:1-2)

 

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26)

48   For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:

And [Hannah] said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaiden, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life. (1 Samuel 1:11)

 

The Lord…inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness, and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female…; and all are alike unto God… (2 Nephi 26:33)

 

Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart. (Matthew 11:29)

for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

 Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies… Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also… A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.  (Proverbs 31:10, 28, 30)

 

And the angel came in unto [Mary], and said, Hail, thou virgin, who art highly favored of the Lord.  The Lord is with thee, for thou art chosen and blessed among women. (JST Luke 1:28)

 

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost; and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, & blessed is the fruit of thy womb. (Luke 1:42)

 

She [the woman who anointed Christ with oil] hath done what she could: and this which she has done unto me, shall be had in remembrance in generations to come, wheresoever my gospel shall be preached; for verily she has come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying. (JST Mark 14:8)

49  For he that is mighty had done great things;

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with signing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.  (Psalm 126:2)

 

Yea, how is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us…, and how it is that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if they exercise faith in him?  Wherefore, let us be faithful unto him. (1 Nephi 7:11-12)

 

By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.  And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes. (Alma 37:6-7)

and holy is his name.

Let them praise thy great and terrible name, for it is holy. (Psalm 99:3)

 

Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (Matthew 6:9)

 

Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy. (Revelation 15:4)

50  And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children. (Deuteronomy 4:10)

 

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy…For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him…The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children. (Psalm 103)

51   He hath showed strength with his arm;

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord…The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 51:9; 52:10)

 

And [Jesus] took [the little children] up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:16)

 

The Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and am I encircled about eternally in the arms of his love. (2 Nephi 1:15)

he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (Malachi 4:1)

52   He hath put down the mighty from their seats,

But it must need be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low. (Doctrine & Covenants 104:16)

and exalted them of low degree.

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.  And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. (Matthew 21:12-13)

 

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.  And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12)

53   He hath filled the hungry with good things;

And he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.  And they had a few small fishes; and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.  So they did eat, and were filled…(Mark 8:6-8)

 

And blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost. (3 Nephi 12:6)

 

And he said unto them: He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never thirst, but shall be filled. (3 Nephi 20:8)

and the rich he hath sent empty away.

And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?…Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:16, 21-22)

54   He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy.

Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou has sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. (Micah 7:20)

55   As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people…To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham…(Luke 1:68, 72-73)

As Mary, may we each seek to magnify the Lord and to rejoice in our Savior.  May we have faith that the Father’s ability to do great and blessed things in our own lives.  May we trust in His word, His justice, and His mercy.  In doing so, we will find that we are filled with good things and with a greater testimony of God our Eternal Father.

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About Taylor Halverson

Taylor Halverson is a BYU Teaching and Learning Consultant, a member of the Book of Mormon Central executive committee, founder and co-director of the BYU Virtual Scriptures Group, a columnist for the Deseret News, founder and co-director of the BYU Creativity, Innovation, and Design group, a travel leader to Mesoamerica and the Holy Land, and the Chief Innovation Officer at Vereo Training. At BYU Taylor has taught Book of Mormon, Old Testament, History of Creativity, Innovation Boot Camp, Basic Entrepreneurship Skills, and an interdisciplinary design course called “Illuminating the Scriptures: Designing Innovative Study Tools.” His education includes: BA in Ancient Near Eastern Studies (BYU), MA in Biblical Studies (Yale University), MS in Instructional Systems Technology (Indiana University), PhD in Instructional Systems Technology (Indiana University), PhD in Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity (Indiana University). Taylor has published and presented widely on scripture, innovation, entrepreneurship, technology, teaching, and learning (more at taylorhalverson.com).

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