December 14, 2020
The Bishop’s Message for Monday in the Third Week of Advent:
"The Song of Mary"

Aloha my dear Siblings in Christ Jesus,

In the lectionary for both the Third Sunday and the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Church is given the option of saying (or singing) “The Song of Mary” (also known as the Magnificat [see The Book of Common Prayer, Canticle 15, page 91]) in place of a Psalm. This song of praise comes from the Gospel of Luke (1:46-55).

You’ll remember that it comes in the story before the birth of Jesus and while Mary is visiting her cousin, Elizabeth. It is Mary’s response to Elizabeth’s blessing and acclamation that Mary’s unborn child was the “Lord.” For the Church through history and for us today, “The Song of Mary” is a proclamation of God’s reign of justice, righteousness and peace. It is a statement of hope and joy.

Here is the translation from The Book of Common Prayer:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.
For generations of Episcopalians and other Anglicans, this is the Canticle sung (or said) after the lesson from the Hebrew Scripture during Evening Prayer.

It is the song of our time as the first vaccines to combat the COVID-19 virus are being delivered and administered around the world. We are also reminded of those who continue to suffer, those who are sick, those who have lost loved ones, those who are in financial distress, those who are hungry, and those who are houseless. I pray it also reminds us of the need for humility and honesty. The promise of hope comes with a challenge from the world around us.

A hymn version of “The Song of Mary” in the Episcopal Church’s The Hymnal 1983 can be found at hymns 437 and 438. The words of both are the same and were written by Timothy Dudley-Smith, a retired Bishop of the Church of England. His words capture the spirit of Mary’s acclamation. Verse three is particularly important for us today:
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
The hungry fed, the humble lifted high.
As we look to 2021, it is with hopeful expectation, but with realism as well. We must continue to wear our masks and to practice social distancing without congregational singing during worship. Many of us need to worship online from home. We must commit to getting the vaccine ourselves (if it is medically safe for us to do so). I will do so as soon as I am eligible. We must be humble, avoid speaking ill of others, care for the vulnerable, and continue to help the hungry and those most hurt by the pandemic.

This is truly an Advent that we all need to be singing “The Song of Mary.”

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

May the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you and scatter the darkness from before your path; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.
With hopeful expectation for Christmas and 2021,


The Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick
Bishop Diocesan
The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i

The Episcopal Church in Micronesia
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