Sunday, 28 July 2013

Latin Prayer of the Week: Magnificat

I want to come back, this week, in this Year of Faith series, to that store of 'common prayers' that we should all know, contained in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and take a look at the Magnificat.

The Magnificat in the Office

The Magnificat is an important 'Office canticle': it is said daily at Vespers (Evening Prayer/Evensong) in the Divine Office.

So knowing it can allow you to join in the Office more effectively if Vespers is sung in a Church near you.

And if there is no sung Vespers near you, you can either say Vespers by yourself (if you don't have a book containing traditional Sunday Vespers, you can find the texts all neatly arranged for the date online here), or by listening into the Monastic version (shorter than the Roman by one psalm) via one of the monasteries that make the Office available such as Le Barroux or Norcia.

Note though, that for Australians, because of the timezone difference, you will need to plan ahead and use the previous Sunday's Office - major feasts aside, the only thing that will change is the antiphon that goes with the Magnificat and the collect (from the Mass of the Sunday).

Context of the prayer

The Magnificat, or My Soul Glorifies the Lord, is the prayer of Our Lady said at the Visitation, when she met St Elizabeth.  And the words very much echo the prayer of another Biblical woman blessed with a child, Hannah, in 2 Kings (Samuel) Chapter 2.

The Magnificat is, of course, straight out of Scripture, from St Luke 1:46-55.  And that is a useful reminder that so much Catholic Marian devotion and dogma is clearly rooted in Scripture and the prayerful reflection on it, and consideration of its theological implications.

The text

Here is the Latin as given in the Compendium.  I've rearranged it slightly so the verses follow liturgical use:

Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum,
et exsultávit spíritus meus in Deo salvatóre meo,
quia respéxit humilitátem ancíllæ suæ: Ecce enim ex hoc beátam me dicent omnes generatiónes,
quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est, et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericórdia eius in progénies et progénies timéntibus eum.
Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo, dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui;
depósuit poténtes de sede et exaltávit húmiles.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis et dívites dimísit inánes.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum, recordátus misericórdiæ,
sicut locútus est ad patres nostros, Ábraham et sémini eius in sæcula.
Glória Patri et Fílio et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum.

The first point to note is that this version is from the Neo-Vulgate, and (for no good reason in my view!) differs in a couple of places from the Vulgate used in the traditional Office.  So here is the more traditional version:

Magníficat * ánima mea Dóminum.
Et exsultávit spíritus meus: * in Deo, salutári meo.
Quia respéxit humilitátem ancíllæ suæ: * ecce enim ex hoc beátam me dicent omnes generatiónes.
Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est: * et sanctum nomen ejus.
Et misericórdia ejus, a progénie in progénies: * timéntibus eum.
Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo: * dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui.
Depósuit poténtes de sede: * et exaltávit húmiles.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis: * et dívites dimísit inánes.
Suscépit Israël púerum suum: * recordátus misericórdiæ suæ.
Sicut locútus est ad patres nostros: * Ábraham, et sémini ejus in sæcula.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.

You can hear it read out in the new Vulgate version here, or in the more traditional form here.


This is one of those prayers you can find endless versions of simply by looking at competing Bible translations, and the Compendium actually offers two alternatives, a UK and a US version.  Here is the UK version:

My soul glorifies the Lord,
My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her lowliness; Henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age,  on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength And scatters the proud hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones And raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things, Sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant, remembering his mercy, the mercy promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his sons for ever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The key point to note if you are interested in digging into the Latin, is that while it is translated here as present tense throughout, in Latin, the first line aside, the verbs are mostly in the perfect (past) tense (eg exsultavit).

1 comment:

Antonia Romanesca said...

Beautiful vid; thanks so much Kate!