I know I’ve got issues with Christian music. I whinge. But it’s not all bad.
My husband and I were familiarising ourselves with Rob Smith’s new song Great Things to play at church on Sunday. Honestly, it’s not my favourite type of music, I wouldn’t normally listen to this. But the song’s power isn’t in the guitars or the melody (or else it might have lost me!). It’s powerful because it’s Mary’s song.
It’s not actually a new song at all. It’s a re-singing of a song Christians have been singing, in various languages, in various styles, for centuries. It’s Mary’s song.
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
When we sing this song, we’re not singing alone, we sing it with generations who have tasted God’s mercy and know his concern for the humble. We sing with them. And people will continue to sing this song for centuries to come, with instruments that haven’t even been created yet. We sing with people who are yet to be born, with people across the world, through the ages, with Mary.
The most beautiful singing of Mary’s song is Arvo Pärt (sorry Bach. better luck next time with BWV423). He wrote it in 1989 (musically, can anything good come of of the 80s? apparently yes) but it doesn’t sounds like it’s out of the 80s. It sounds ageless, fitting for a song thousands of years old.
Magnificat anima mea et exultavit quia respexit ecce enim. Quia fecit qui potens est et sanctum et misericordia. Fecit potentiam dispersit superbos deposuit et exaltavit esurientes et divites. Suscepit Israel puerum suum recordatus sicut locutus Abraham et semini. Magnificat anima mea Dominum.
Thank you Google Translate, good enough for me:
Because he hath regarded: for behold, my soul doth magnify the glad and hath rejoiced. For he who is mighty and holy and mercy. He has shown strength hath scattered the proud and the rich he took down the hungry, and hath exalted. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of, as he promised to the seed of Abraham, and the. My soul magnifies the Lord.
What I recommend is that you don’t watch the video. Instead, lie on the floor (do it!), close your eyes, listen to the music. As the choir sings, meditate on God’s faithfulness, his compassion and his love for the poor and humble from generation to generation.