Sing a Song… is a short series which looks at specific songs of the Bible and their Ah-ha Moments. This is the fourth installment.
It was Christmas and I was determined to have the best ever. Gifts under the tree for family and friends were carefully selected. I had an itinerary that included attending Christmas pageants, taking walks along cobblestoned streets in
The latter was highly anticipated as our praise and worship team is bar-none and the church had promised a “walk through the trees” display sure to thrill us. I don’t actually remember any particular tree. What I do recall is that while sitting fourth-row-center in our large auditorium, I heard O Magnum Mysterium for the very first time.
Years of Silence
There are 400 “silent” years between the old and the new testaments of the Bible. “Silent” because there is no record of God speaking to His people or His prophets.
The world was not silent, however. The world was in its most intensive search for “truth” as has ever been. It was a time of seeking the “meaning of life” in places like
It was also a time of Roman wars preceding what is known as Pax Romana, the peace of
God had been silent long enough. He sent His angel Gabriel to announce that the long-awaited Messiah was coming. Not in the form of a philosopher, per se, or a military leader, or one who would bring about governmental peace by subjection of peoples.
God’s voice was heard for the first time in 400 years in the form of a newborn’s wail, heard by a poor Jewish carpenter, his young bride, and perhaps a few animals (the Bible gives us no clear facts on animals at the birthing place, though the insinuation is understandable).
O Magnum Mysterium
O great mystery and wonderful sacrament
That animals see the Lord born, lying in a manger.
Blessed virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Lord Christ.
The song, O Magnum Mysterium, is typically sung in Latin and was inspired by what is now called Mary’s Magnificat. But her song was not sung after the birth of her son, but rather just after her relative, Elizabeth (pregnant with the boy who would come to be known as John the Baptist), gave a confirmation to Mary that she would, indeed, give birth to God’s only begotten Son, just as Gabriel had said she would.[ii]
A Day Like Any Other?
Mary, like Zechariah, was simply going about the doing the day-to-day stuff, though in Mary’s case, she was getting ready for her wedding to Joseph. Tradition tells us that she was at the only well in
“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus….”
“How will this be…since I am a virgin….”
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you….”[iv]
Could Someone Else Have Done This?
Have you ever wondered if Mary was the first girl Gabriel went to? What if he’d gone to others and they’d said, “I can’t do this. Would you mind, terribly — and respectfully of course — asking someone else? I hear Mary down the block is fairly open to trying new things.”
And by the way, what would you have said?
Based on Mary’s response we know she accepted that it would be but wondered how it would be. This is unlike Zechariah who doubted that it could be. Gabriel explained that by herself she could not bring Messiah into the world; it was only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
How many times have you read the word “power” and thought little of it? Probably as many times as you have turned a light switch on. It takes power — electrical power — to do the everyday things we take for granted (until we have an outage, that is…). But Mary would not have taken this kind of power for granted. This was POWER!!!
The Greek word is dunamis; we get the word “dynamite” from it.
The POWER that placed Jesus in Mary’s womb is the same power that raised Him from the dead thirty-plus years later. It is the same power He used to raise the dead and heal the sick and it is the same power He passes on to those who would believe in Him and accept it.
The Ah-ha Moment
Mary was just an ordinary girl. She surely thought her life would consist of marriage and motherhood followed by death. Nothing spectacular. She was just living her life.
Like so many of us. The difference in Zechariah and Mary is that while he doubted and was kept silent for a season, Mary was empowered and sang!
A close study of Mary’s Song, found at the end of Luke 1, reveals a wealth of knowledge of spiritual matters. There are over 20 references to Old Testament scriptures. She says she will be called “blessed,” which is translated “counted.” There is, from her, a sense of humbleness and exaltation. Extraordinary from such a young girl.
But, to be the mother of God, she would need God’s power living and dwelling in her far after she pushed Him from her womb. There is no doubt in my mind that she had exactly that.
So again I ask: what about you? What is it you want to do with your life? Just live it out, or do something which will be counted? If the latter, are you trying to do it alone, or do you have the power?
Sing a Song, Part Three: March on, My Soul
Award-winning national speaker Eva Marie Everson is a graduate of