Advent Midweek reflection – The Magnificat, Mary’s Song

Advent, (from Latin adventus, “coming”), the season when we prepare to celebrate in the birth of Jesus, the Christ. I can well imagine that as we move towards Christmas and hopefully having found ways to manage COVID19 we will look towards coming together as families and communities and a special celebration. In all this excitement let us not forget the meaning of Advent.

Advent is also for Christians across the world the start of a New Church Year and a change in our scripture readings. This year our gospel is that according to St Luke. Tradition and scholars believe that this gospel was written by a follower of Jesus, a physician named Luke, who also was a travelling companion of Paul.

(The Gothic nave of the city parish church in Graz is lit up during the Advent season in the liturgical colour violet. Isiwal, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)


Luke addresses the Gospel to the “most excellent Theophilus,” and it is a comprehensive account of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. Luke goes on to write the Acts of the Apostles. Theophilus was probably a man of high social standing, possibly a Roman officer. The gospel is thought to have been written in Rome and probably for a wider audience that just Theophilus and for a people not familiar with the homeland of Jesus.

The first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke contains four canticles (songs) to God. Three of those four songs have been cherished and used from the early centuries of Christianity in the daily liturgies of the Church – Morning Prayer (Benedictus, the Song of Zachariah) , Evening Prayer, (Magnificat, the Song of Mary) and Prayer at the Close of the Day, Compline, (the Nunc Dimittis, the Song of Simeon). The Gloria in Excelsis, (A Song of God’s Glory) echoes throughout our Christmas celebrations, it is however found within the Eucharistic celebration, ‘The Gloria’.

These four songs will be the focus during our weekly time of reflective prayers, using the Gloria in Excelsis as the final song. This is admittedly out of sequence but suits the purpose of these times of reflective prayer.

Our first song is the Magnificat, Mary’s Song. St Luke captures the teenage Mary’s experience and give us an image of this young woman’s response. The first two sentences are particularly beautiful and at the same time powerful. Luke then emphasises what this action of the Holy Spirit will mean. It does not have a sentimental ending, the song concludes with words that turn things upside down fortunes are reversed, the hungry will be filled, the lowly lifted up even as the rich will be sent away empty and the mighty brought down. Certainly all generations will call Mary blessed.

Reflective Prayer of the First Week of Advent 2021

(Candle Image – Adventskranz mit einer brennenden Kerze de:Benutzer:THWler 33142 Public domain – Wikimedia Commons)

Perhaps light a single candle and offer these opening thoughts and prayer:

As we join with others, through the internet, may our meeting place, wherever it is, be a place where heaven and earth whisper a greeting and where we kindle lights of hope for the world and to give glory and praise to God

Almighty God, as your kingdom dawns, turn us from the darkness of sin to the light of holiness, that we may be ready to meet you in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen (Collect for Advent Sunday)

Psalm 25 (1-5)
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; O my God, in you I trust; •
let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies triumph over me.
Let none who look to you be put to shame, • but let the treacherous be shamed and frustrated.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord, • and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, • for you are the God of my salvation;
for you have I hoped all the day long.
Remember, Lord, your compassion and love, • for they are from everlasting.


A reading from St Luke – The Song of Mary Luke 1.46-55

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”


Lord, thou hast given us thy Word for a light to shine upon our path;
grant us so to meditate on that Word, and to follow its teaching,
that we may find in it the light that shines more and more until the perfect day; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Jerome, c 342 – 420)


Advent, a season where we lift up our hearts in praise and anticipation. In the weeks of Advent let us pray that we use the season to prepare ourselves as we look forward to hearing the improbable story of the birth of the baby. Let us pause before our prayers and hold the words of our readings, perhaps slowly reading them again.

We pray firstly for those closest to us, our immediate family and closest friends – for their health, needs, joys and fears.

(Silent prayer)

God of creation, God of Salvation Hear the prayers of our hearts

We pray for our extended family and friends who we might not see each week –
for their love and concern, for their wellbeing.

(Silent prayer)

God of creation, God of Salvation Hear the prayers of our hearts

We pray for those who we only have contact with infrequently –
for a blessing this Advent-time

(Silent prayer)

God of creation, God of Salvation Hear the prayers of our hearts

We pray for this world and its people – for the needs of this week and the future.

(Silent prayer)

God of creation, God of Salvation
Who speaks to us through thunder and whisper, who loves us as if there were but one of us to love Hear the prayers of our hearts
(adapted from Prayers for Advent 1 John Birch)

Lord, as Christmas draws ever closer free me from being self-absorbed and self-centred. Instead fill me with eagerness and generosity of heart. Like Mary, may I too go out in loving service of others and experience your Love leaping up in me and in those with whom I come in contact.

Our thanks to Barry and Ann Sugden for the musical accompaniment. Many of use will remember with gratitude their musical input to our weekly worship during the Lockdowns and beyond. Thank you for your contribution to this time of reflection.

Hymn – Join the song of praise and protest
Please follow the link below for the music

Join the song of praise and protest
All the nations of the earth:
God, loves the poor and humble,
sings of dignity and worth.
Those the world has long rejected
take at last their rightful place,
sharing in the song of Mary,
filled with unexpected grace!

God has rocked the earth’s foundations,
turned its values upside-down:
strength is overcome by weakness
and humble wear the action
undermines the nation’s pride,
lifts the poor and feeds the hungry,
pushing rich and proud aside.

Join the song of praise and protest
as the voices find a voice,
as the powerless rise triumphant
and the broken hearts rejoice.
Now the God of all creation
rights the long-accepted wrongs;
let the voices of the nations
swell the liberation song.
Michael Forster b.1946 © Kevin Mayhew Ltd.

The Lord’s Prayer

A Hopeful Benediction
Be people of hope.
Let hope live in your heart and share the hope of Christ with all you meet.
Share hope by noticing someone else’s humanity.
Share hope by listening to someone’s story.
Share hope by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share hope.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share hope with those you meet. Amen. (

You may wish the finish this time of reflective prayer sitting silently and enjoying a peaceful moment or two. Perhaps you may wish to play the hymn again or listen to some music that has touched you or a favourite hymn or song. Enjoy these moments! God bless!

Derek Akker
(Derek is a retired Anglican Parish Priest and a member of the congregations of All Saints & St James)

Collect – Liturgy © Common Worship, The Archbishops Council, 2000

Parish of Kirklees Valley, Bury, (All Saints, Elton & St James, Woolfold)
In the Diocese of Manchester
CCLI Licence Number 1243418 Church Copyright and Streaming Licence