My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked upon the lowliness of His handmaiden.
Since the early Middle Ages, the Magnificat contained in St. Luke’s Gospel has been part of the liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church, and still today remains part of the Liturgy of the Hours as the canticle for Vespers. The other two canticles found in St. Luke’s Gospel are the Benedictus, which is sung in during lauds (or morning prayer) and the Nunc Dimittis, which is recited at compline.
The Orthodox Church sings the Magnificat during the daily celebration of matins, between the eighth and ninth ode of the canon.
The Magnificat is also contained in the Book of Common Prayer used by the Anglican Communion.
It is one of the texts most often set to music, from Gregorian Chant to Claudio Monteverdi, Francesco Durante, Nicola Fago, Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Back, Nicola Porpora and Franz Liszt, and has become part of the most classical repertoire.
The Magnificat has also been set to more modern music by numerous artists, including Monsignor Marco Frisina, in a Latin version sung by the famous Italian singer Mina, and an Italian version performed by the Choir of the Diocese of Rome.
Living composers, such as Arvo Pärt and John Rutter, also wrote a Magnificat, in 1989 and 1990 respectively.
Magnificat is the first word of the song of thanksgiving and joy that Mary proclaimed in response to the greeting of her cousin Elizabeth the moment they met.
In Mary’s words, there are no traces of revenge, no enemies to be destroyed, but rather a renewed world where even the rich who have been freed from their empty riches are given back the dignity of the poor.