The Magnificat: Luke 1, 46-52

The “Magnificat,” is a hymn of Mary, mother of Jesus found in the Gospel of Luke. A text that not only encapsulates a profound moment of personal revelation, but also serves as a universal call for humility, divine justice and the upliftment of the oppressed, values deeply rooted in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

 

Verse IdentifierEnglish VerseOriginal Language (Greek)transliterationTranslated VerseOriginal Language (Latin)
Luke 1:46-47My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον, καὶ ἠγαλλίασεν τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐπὶ τῷ Θεῷ τῷ σωτήρί μου,Megalynei hē psychē mou ton Kyrios, kai ēgalliastēn to pneuma mou epi tō Theō tō sōtēri mou,My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum, et exsultávit spíritus meus in Deo salvatóre meo,
Luke 1:48for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;ὅτι ἐπέβλεψεν ἐπὶ τὴν ταπείνωσιν τῆς δούλης αὐτοῦ. ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν μακαρίουσίν με πᾶσαι αἱ γενεαί·hoti epeblepsen epi tēn tapeinosin tēs doules autou. idou gar apo tou nyn makariousin me pasai hai geneai;for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;quia respéxit humilitátem ancíllæ suæ. Ecce enim ex hoc beátam me dicent omnes generatiónes,
Luke 1:49for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.ὅτι ἐποίησέν μοι μεγάλα ὁ δυνατός, καὶ ἅγιον τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ,hoti epoiēsen moi megala ho dynatos, kai hagion to onoma autou,for he that is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is his name.quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen eius,
Luke 1:50And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.καὶ τὸ ἔλεος αὐτοῦ εἰς γενεὰς καὶ γενεὰς τοῖς φοβουμένοις αὐτόν.kai to eleos autou eis geneas kai geneas tois phoboumenois auton.And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.et misericórdia eius in progénies et progénies timéntibus eum.
Luke 1:51-52He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;Ἐποίησεν κράτος ἐν βραχίονι αὐτοῦ, διεσκόρπισεν ὑπερηφάνους διανοίᾳ καρδίας αὐτῶν· καθεῖλεν δυνάστας ἀπὸ θρόνων, καὶ ὕψωσεν ταπεινούς·Epoiēsen kratos en brachioni autou, dieskorpisen hyperēphanous dianoia kardias autōn; katheilen dynastas apo thronōn, kai hypsōsen tapeinous;He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree;Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo, dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui; depósuit poténtes de sede et exaltávit húmiles;
Luke 1:53he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.πεινῶντας ἐνέπλησεν ἀγαθῶν καὶ πλουτοῦντας ἐξαπέστειλεν κενούς.peinōntas eneplēsen agathōn kai ploutountas exapesteilen kenous.He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he has sent empty away.esuriéntes implévit bonis et dívites dimísit inánes.
Luke 1:54-55He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.ἀντελάβετο Ἰσραὴλ παιδὸς αὐτοῦ, μνησθῆναι ἐλέους, καθὼς ἐλάλησεν πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶν, τῷ Ἀβραὰμ καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.antelabeto Israēl paidos autou, mnēsthēnai eleous, kathōs elalēsen pros tous pateras hēmōn, tō Abraam kai tō spermati autou eis ton aiōna.He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.Suscépit Israel púerum suum, recordátus misericórdiæ, sicut locútus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et sémini eius in sæcula.

 

Commentary

Creating a verse-by-verse commentary on the “Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55) helps us understand the theological and literary depth of this significant biblical hymn sung by Mary, the mother of Jesus. Here’s a detailed explanation for each verse:

### Luke 1:46-47
**”My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”**
– **Commentary:** Mary begins her song with a declaration of praise and joy. The phrase “magnifies the Lord” suggests an act of making God’s greatness more apparent, reflecting her personal experience of God’s grace. The term “Savior” acknowledges her recognition of God’s role in salvation, not just personally but for all people.

### Luke 1:48
**”For he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;”**
– **Commentary:** Mary highlights God’s attention to her lowly status, underscoring a recurring theme in Scripture: God’s preference for the humble and lowly. The prophecy that “all generations will call me blessed” has been fulfilled throughout Christian history, as Mary is venerated in many traditions.

### Luke 1:49
**”For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”**
– **Commentary:** This verse acknowledges the power and holiness of God. Mary recognizes the “great things” done for her as divine acts, emphasizing God’s might and sanctity.

### Luke 1:50
**”And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”**
– **Commentary:** The reference to God’s mercy being for those who “fear him” touches on a reverential awe and respect for God. This mercy is not fleeting but is steadfast through generations, indicating the enduring nature of God’s covenant love.

### Luke 1:51-52
**”He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;”**
– **Commentary:** These verses depict God’s active intervention in the world, where divine power reverses earthly power structures. It reflects a social reversal that is a common theme in Scripture, where the proud are scattered and the humble are lifted.

### Luke 1:53
**”He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”**
– **Commentary:** This continues the theme of God’s reversal of fortunes, where the needy are provided for and the wealthy are left wanting. It underscores the biblical principle that God cares for the marginalized and challenges the complacency of the rich.

### Luke 1:54-55
**”He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”**
– **Commentary:** These closing verses reconnect Mary’s personal experience with the collective history of Israel. The mention of Abraham and his descendants highlights God’s faithful remembrance of the promises made to the patriarchs, thus affirming the continuity of God’s salvation plan from the Old to the New Testament.

This commentary outlines how the “Magnificat” is not only a personal hymn of Mary’s faith but also a profound theological reflection on God’s action in history and his reversal of human expectations.

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