scored for horn, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, organ and choir

2005 Premiere
Trinity UMC-Arlington, TX 

Magnificat-finaledit 09 09 13.mp3

Commissioned by the choirs of
Trinity United Methodist Church of Arlington, TX.  Rev. G. W. Dub Shepherd,
Director of Music Ministries 

Magnificat: The Canticle of Mary  -   Luke 1:46-55

                  The Magnificat, or Canticle of Mary is one of three canticles contained in the Gospel of Luke and serves in many ways as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments.  Along with the Canticle of Zachary (Benedictus) and the Canticle of Simeon (Nunc dimittis), the Magnificat is an expression of joy and thanksgiving and fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.  Magnificat is, in many ways, a conversation between two women which encompasses the full range of emotions; from exaltation and awe to somber reflection.  While the full text contains ten stanzas in addition to the Gloria Patri, I have condensed to suit the needs of the original commission.

                  The opening statement remains intact, Magnificat anima mea Dominum (My soul magnifies the Lord).  The following two vss. [47-48], have been truncated and adapted into English:  “Behold, my soul rejoices in God my Savior.  The barren shall bear fruit and all nations shall call me blessed.”  The scriptural references in these verses, those being Psalm 34, Habakkuk 3, Psalm 137, Psalm 112, and Malachias 3 all refer to, in some fashion, how the ‘barren shall bear fruit’ and thus the addition of this text to the Magnificat.  While the Magnificat’s authorship may be debated, one can easily see how Elizabeth could share in Mary’s joy with the birth of her own “holy child” in John.  So, vs. 49, Quia fecit…(For he who is mighty has done great things to me; and holy is his name) in this Magnificat is a duet for treble voices.  The melody of this duet moves between the two voices, giving equal opportunity for both characters to express their joy.  The full chorus concludes this section repeating the phrase “et sanctum nomen ejus.”

            Vss. 50-52 are summarized into one phrase: Exultate Deo! (Rejoice in the Lord.)  Vs. 53,Esurientes implevit…. (The hungry he has filled with good things and the rich he has sent empty away) is adapted to “The first shall be last, the last shall be first” flowing directly into the Latin Suscepit Israel puerum suum (He has helped his servant Israel).  The final verse Sicut locutus est…. (As is was spoken to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever), refers to Abraham and his wife Sara; “the barren shall bear fruit” in Genesis 17:19 and 26:4 in reference to vss. 47-48 of the Magnificat.  The Gloria Patri is removed since this Magnificat can be used in more than a liturgical setting. 

                  "Mary's prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the Incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father's plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ's conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, His Body. In the faith of His humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance He had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made "full of grace" responds by offering her whole being: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to Thy word". "Fiat": this is Christian prayer: to be wholly Gods' because He is wholly ours.” [CCC 2617]

Michael E. Ekbladh