A Canticle for Advent: Unnumbered Blessings

The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner 1898

These daily Advent reflections are each devoted to one Christmas carol (or canticle) to prepare us for God dwelling among us– then, now and forever more.

Mary’s Song from Luke 1

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Savior shall my heart rejoice.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age to same;
his holy Name–the Lord, the Mighty One.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.

Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children’s children and for evermore!
~Timothy Dudley Smith 1962

Mary’s life was turned upside down by the news she received and she sings out her acceptance of her part to play in bringing God down to His people.
Her words reflect the upending of the way things had been.  Instead, Jesus is the King who will be unlike any other,
coming from the most humble of women and circumstances, owning nothing, knowing richness by giving Himself away.
He conquers by showing mercy:  our hearts and souls are saved through His death, not by the deaths of enemies.
He keeps God’s promises: He is the covenant with Abraham fulfilled.
Tell out, each of us, from the soul, the good news.
We are given voice by His unnumbered blessings.

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”
Luke 1:46-55

4 thoughts on “A Canticle for Advent: Unnumbered Blessings

  1. Emily, this is beauiful. When I finally came to understand from a human perspective what occurred in the life of this young Jewish girl (probably in her early teens), I fell in love with her. She became my Mother, someone to whom I could go when I was physically and emotionally abused. The account of the angel’s Annunciation to her prior to the hymn, Magnificat, is a study of unparalleled abandonment to God’s will. Her humility, praise to God, and her profound trust and love are difficult for us to fathom I think — particularly considering the social implications that her “Yes” had for her at that time in Jewish history. I view the Magnificat as a stunning history of God’s revelation to us — for that time, for all time — for His actions leading up to our salvation and beyond when he will fill the faithful with all good things and judge evildoers with His righteousness.


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