The third Sunday in Advent (we are around to Year A again, by the way) brings us to the song of Mary, generally known by its Latin name (from the first line Magnificat anima mea Dominum) as the Magnificat. The text is in Luke 1: 46-55.
Understandably, settings for this song abound. In our own song book alone, Together in song, there are seven tunes that are either settings of or references to this lovely paean of thankful wonder – or was it wondering thanks?
The text has been identified for centuries as one of the key liturgical canticles. It’s part of the Marian tradition of course, but is also appropriate during Advent as we rehearse the story of the coming of the baby Jesus.
This Sunday, a group of women will lead us in singing Holy is your name, set to the traditional Irish tune Wild mountain thyme. (Psalms for all seasons, page 1020). One line goes:
I am lowly as a child, but I know from this day forward that my name will be remembered, for all will call me blessed.
What a moment for Mary!
And holy is your name through all generations!
Everlasting is your mercy to the people you have chosen
And holy is your name.
Here is one version on youtube >
Ladies, please arrive early on Sunday in preparation.
For those interested in just a few of the other canticle candidates, read on …
Choices, choices …
For starters, try this Gregorian chant on youtube>, and it’s even by the ‘Daughters of Mary’! A little hard to launch this one at short notice.
Last year at this time we enjoyed a rendition by some of our women of a similar song in paraphrase, Canticle of the turning to a traditional tune. It was delightful – but we move on.
Turning to a couple from TiS:
No 161 Tell out my soul is a favourite, and this will no doubt appear as a hymn.
- No 172 My soul gives glory, much less frequently sung, presents a nice approach with an early American melody and more inclusive references to God. The text lends itself to participation by all – but verses 1 and 2 particularly invite the pure sounds of female voices.
Isaac Everett, a fount of great music and ideas for our psalms for this jazz-influenced muso, does not include any canticles in his book 😦
A more traditional chant and response style, using a simple three-note ‘tone’ or chant tune, and a style that we sometimes employ with the male voice quartet, may be found in Psalms for all seasons, page 1022.
Meanwhile, amongst many more versions, other pages in PFAS offer different approaches. Page 1020 offers our final choice: Holy is your name – brought to you by the same angelic team that made the feather fly in presenting music of Hildegard von Bingen!
Thank you all again.