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Hymn: My Soul Rejoices

by PastorMinton on February 12th, 2016

My Soul Rejoices

Author: Blessed Virgin Mary (ca. 4 BC; Luke 1:46-55); Stephen Starke (1991)
Typical Tune: In dir ist Freude, Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (1556-1622)

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HYMN BACKGROUND

The Blessed Virgin Mary sang the original hymn in Aramaic when the archangel Gabriel told her that she would be the mother of the Messiah. Stephen Starke, often called the greatest LCMS hymnwriter of our age, took the words from Luke 1:46-55 and put them to a different tune. Starke wrote this version of the Magnificat in 1991. It became best-known from its incorporation in the Evening Prayer service in Hymnal Supplement 98. We use this version of Evening Prayer in our Advent and Lent midweek services. It is a more hymnic version than what is found in the Evening Prayer or Vespers services in the major LCMS hymnals.

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LYRICS

1 My soul rejoices,
My spirit voices–
sing the greatness of the Lord!
For God my Savior
has shown me favor–
sing the greatness of the Lord!
With praise and blessing,
join in confessing
God, who is solely
mighty and holy–
O sing the greatness of God the Lord!
His mercy surely
shall rest securely
on all who fear Him,
love and revere Him–
O sing the greatness of God the Lord!

2 His arm now baring,
His strength declaring–
sing the greatness of the Lord!
The proud He scatters,
their rule He shatters–
sing the greatness of the Lord!
Oppression halted;
the meek exalted.
Full are the hungry;
empty, the wealthy–
O sing the greatness of God the Lord!
Here is the token
all that was spoken
to Abraham’s offspring
God is fulfilling–
O sing the greatness of God the Lord!

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COMMENTARY

Our hymnal contains five versions of Mary’s Magnificat: Vespers (231-232), Evening Prayer (248-249) and hymns #933-935. I believe that this version (hymn #933) is the easiest of the five to sing while still being close to the original text.

This is a hymn of praise that is appropriate even in Lent. Before Jesus’ birth, the Jewish world was very dark. The residents of Palenstine were basically slaves to the Roman Emperor. However, they had some religious freedoms because of the relationship between Herod the Great and Caesar Augustus. Even with these freedoms, the Jews longed for the coming Messiah. They wanted to see the Lord’s salvation in their lifetime. They want to see the greatness of the Lord. They don’t want the stories of God’s previous greatness as told through the ancient stories. They wanted to see God’s mystical power in their lives.

What difference is there to today? People want to see God’s power in their lives. They want to rejoice. Even in the midst of Lent, as we go through the Passion reading, there is the chance to rejoice in God’s greatness. His mercy rests securely on those who fear Him. His mercy gives us the reason for our hope. Hope available even in Lent.

We join our voices with the Blessed Virgin Mary’s because our days are dark as well. We need to see that God’s greatness isn’t only in the ancient stories of the Bible. God’s greatness is here as we hear the words of God’s Absolution and receive Jesus’ body and blood. This is God’s greatness in action in our lives.

From → Hymnody

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