As an altar boy, I’d have responsibilities at Church and had to memorize Latin phrases in order to fulfill that role. I never bothered much about what the phrases meant, I just had to learn to recite them by rote. As I reflect on those years and those songs, I find I’m more interested in what they mean now. In the history of the Christian Church, Latin was the only authorized language for nearly 2,000 years. Much of the Christmas music in my childhood was in Latin. There were four songs that specifically stood out. They are the four first Christmas Carols ever written.  They were not written in Latin but in the Common language of the people, Koine Greek. This was the language of the marketplace. It was the language everyone understood and used in everyday life. These four songs have been sung in Christmas Cantatas for years, but most only in Latin. They have been sung so often in Latin that they have been given Latin Names from Latin phrases in the song itself. The earliest of these songs is called “The Magnificat.” It was Mary’s song.

Luke 1:46-55 contains the verses of this song. The name comes from the opening phrase, “My Soul magnifies the Lord….” Thus, it’s called the “Magnificat.” This song follows the same pattern as the Old Testament “Praise Songs” in the book of Psalms. Singing has always been a very important part of the lives of the faithful. One whole book of the Old Testament is devoted to music, while other songs are sprinkled throughout the stories of the Old Testament as well. We find songs interspersed with texts in the New Testament as well, especially in the opening portions of the Gospels as well as in the Epistles. Music matters in the life of a believer.

I’ve never been a real “Musical” fan. Kathy loves the “Fiddler on the Roof, “South Pacific,” “West Side Story,” and anything with Fred Astaire or that guy in “Singing in the Rain.” ( I forget his name.) However, these modern musicals present a part of life that’s undeniable. Some things just move our hearts and souls so much that one feels like busting out in song and dance. If you read the Song of Moses and Mariam back in Exodus 15, you’ll see that God’s deliverance through the Red Sea resulted in the whole nation busting out in song and dance. Let’s admit it, the Bee Gees are right: some things in life “make me feel like dancing…. Dance the night away.” Mary’s Song is an explosion of emotion! She bursts out in song!  The Saviour has come! He has done great things! That’s what it means when she says, “My Soul Magnifies the Lord.” The joy of the arrival of the Saviour makes her sing! That’s why music is such an important part of Christmas. Let your soul “magnify” the Lord, too!