Songs of the Incarnation
A series which looks at the poetic words uttered around the birth of the Messiah.
When the Heavens start singing, we’d better pay attention…
When scripture sings something important is happening. God is breaking into the world in a tremendous way. Songs in scripture are clues that the redemptive power of God is at work. You see it first in the song of Moses and Miriam when God has delivered his people from the Egyptians. You see it majestically in the songs of the Incarnation. You see it finally in the outpouring of song revealed in Revelation where the whole of redemptive history is ensconced between the Song of Moses (Ex 15) and the Song of the Lamb (Rev 15). There is no better way to celebrate the Advent and the Christmas seasons than to sing the songs of the early church…to sing with Zechariah, Mary, Simeon, and ultimately the entire regalia of the heavenly host! To help you along the way in this we’re going to feature each of these New Testament ‘canticles’ (songs) in the coming weeks.
Mary’s Song (Luke 1:46-55)
The song of Mary, found in Luke ‘s Gospel, is traditionally known as the Magnificat which comes from the latin of the first words of her song “my soul magnifies.” It is a new testament ‘canticle'(song) that has been sung in Christian worship for centuries. The song arises as Mary’s response to the angel’s words that she will give birth to Jesus, the Messiah. Shortly after hearing this Mary travels to be with her cousin Elizabeth who also prophecies about her. Overwhelmed by everything that has happened to her she speaks these words. Her song echoes several Old Testament biblical passages, but the most significant are the allusions to the Song of Hannah found in 1Samuel 2:1-10.
Protestant churches, especially american evangelical ones avoid this song because of its presence in catholic and anglican worship but it is a beautiful, and biblical song that we should use more often – especially during the Advent and Christmas seasons. It’s hard to find accessible contemporary, congregational versions but here are some links to get you started.
Magnify (Tom Wuest)
mp3 | leadsheet
He Has Done Great Things (Christ Church Berkeley)
mp3 | chart
Traditional Hymns with a Focus on the Incarnation
The Son of God Came Down – Sovereign Grace
For a preachers take on some of these songs check out…
The Incarnation in the Gospels (By Daniel Doriani, Richard Phillips, and Philip Ryken)
Dr. Reggie Kidd recently preached on the Incarnation… Listen on Itunes HERE.
The Next Weeks…
Zechariah’s Song – The Benedictus– Luke 1:67-79
The Angels Song – Gloria in Excelsis Deo – Luke 2:14
Simeon’s Song – Nunc Dimittis – Luke 2:28-32