Sunday, December 28, 2008

Missing Magnificat on Episcopal Cafe

My piece "The Missing Magnificat" is posted on Episcopal Cafe in Daily Episcopalian. A similar piece by Jonathan Bartley appeared on Christmas Day, "Red Mary: This real Christmas message isn't meek and mild, it's subversive, a challenge to wealth and power."

Mary's song has far more in common with The Red Flag than We Three Kings. But if it makes uncomfortable reading for the Church keen to attract people with a warm, fuzzy message at the one time of year when church attendance seems to actually increase, it is equally challenging for governments.

A few years ago, during the passage of one of the Conservative Government's immigration and asylum bills, an MP from the opposition benches rose to speak in the House of Commons. He began to relate the story of a young unmarried couple. The young girl was pregnant, and they were fleeing a despotic regime. As the story developed, it became clear that this was no ordinary family. He was talking about the Holy Family – a fact that was not lost of the then immigration minister, herself a Catholic, who grew redder by the second as the story unfolded. Then came the final blow. Under the government's proposals, that family, the MP proposed, would not be granted asylum in the UK.

Those who really understand Mary's take on the nativity will realise that Jesus's birth is not just good news for the oppressed, but a threat to all those who seek to restrict and control. It tells us that those who crusade for Christmas will end up losing the very festival they would defend.

My additional point is simply this: where then do we hear the Magnificat in the liturgy??


geneva said...

CAn't get to the episcopal cafe post at the moment but do you know Fred Kaan's hymn - which is of course sung to the tune of the red flag - also of course the tune of Tannebaum or O Christmas tree
here are the words - we sang them at my father's funeral - this was written before Fred was challenged to re-write his hymns in the light of feminist theology. Anyway this hymn has also been translated into French and German and is number 39 in Cantate Domino - though the tune being the red flag only really works for anglophones.

Sing we a song of high revolt;
Make great the Lord, his name exalt:
Sing we the song that Mary sang
Of God at war with human wrong.
Sing we of him who deeply cares
And still with us our burden bears;
He, who with strength the proud disowns,
Brings down the mighty from their thrones.

By him the poor are lifted up:
He satisfies with bread and cup
The hungry folk of many lands;
The rich are left with empty hands.
He calls us to revolt and fight
With him for what is just and right
To sing and live Magnificat
In crowded street and council flat

Jane said...

sorry - the joys of computer sharing mean that I was logged in with my partner's alias!
HAve a great new year!

Deirdre said...

I wondered who that was!!! Thanks so much Jane for the hymn reference which was new to me. Could you give me a link for "Cantate Domino"?

Jane said...

Here are some links

Kaan's hymns are published by Stainer and Bell
Cantate Domino is published by the WCC but has been out of print for decades I suspect
Anyway it would seem that Fred has rewritten Magnificat for a new millenium - scroll down here:
In fact I think I may have a copy of this on my growaning bookshelves ... will try and dig out the text for you. Anyway here's the blurb. Fred was my moderator when I was candidating for the ministry and I learnt German in Berlin thanks to him in many ways.
The Only Earth We Know
Hymns and Lyrical Poems
Published 1999
ISBN 0 85249 852 7
[Online Shop]
Published to coincide with Fred Kaan's 70th birthday, this is the definitive collection of his work; as he himself describes it, 'One man's 100 hymns, give or "take five" . . . For today and (I dare to hope) for some of our tomorrows'.

Included in the volume is the text for Magnificat for a New Millennium, a major cantata with music by Knut Nystedt, commissioned for EXPO 2000, the World Exhibition in Hanover, Germany.

Many of the hymns in The Only Earth We Know have been revised in the light of insights gained from inclusive language. The volume also contains a rich diversity of familiar and specially-written settings, by a range of composers including Peter Churchill, Maggie Hamilton, Ron Klusmeier, Doreen Potter, Pamela Ward and Carlton R. Young.

Rev Dr Mom said...

D, this year the RCL allows for the Magnificat to be used in place of the psalm on Advent 3 and 4, and we used it both Sundays. Not sure if this is true in years A and C.

Clay said...

In the Catholic lectionary, it's the gospel for the 4th Sunday of Advent, as well as being used on the Feast of Mary's Immaculate Conception.

That probably doesn't help much, though.

Jane R said...

It's the supreme irony that when I was preaching in the RC Church, I got to preach on Mary's Magnificat on 4 Advent. Now in TEC, I can do so but we don't get to hear the Gospel --I have to add it in to the sermon because I happen to have a Magnificat bias :-)-- and the congregation at which I was preaching on this Advent 4 (not my home base) didn't have the Magnificat as canticle and I didn't have the option to request it. Which wouldn't have resolved the matter anyway, because, as I just pointed out on the Episcopal Café site, it is a different matter to have the Magnificat read as Gospel.

I'll be curious to see what your response is when you return from the U.K. Bop on over to the Café when you've recovered from jet lag. People aren't "getting it." They're talking about the use of the Magnificat in Evening Prayer. Getting everyone to pray the Office, or even pray it more attentively, is not going to address the issue you raised.

I did sneak the Magnificat in there in my recent Advent 4 sermon, but it was very different from preaching on a Gospel featuring Mary and Elizabeth and the Magnificat itself.

Re: hymns. Someone at the Café did mention the version of the Magnificat in one of the hymnbooks ("Tell Out, My Soul") but I prefer the one we used at Ecumenical Evening Prayer (essentially a Cathedral Office of Evening Prayer) at CDSP, which is Miriam Therese Winter's version. Not sure whether or where it can be found in our hymnbooks (I don't have a copy of Wonder, Love, & Praise or of Voices Found here - and my experience is few congregations use them; alas; and not enough use Lift Every Voice and Sing, either), but the Dean of Chapel introduced it at CDSP.

Borderlands of Theological Education Book Party

Thanks to Dean Robyn Neville, the Dean of CCFL in the Diocese of SE Florida, our second book party for   Borderlands of Theological Educatio...