Week 3: We are the Champions
And Mary said,The Song of Mary (from The Message)
I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.
The Magnificat, the Song of Mary, the Ode of Theotokos is one of the most ancient canticles, or hymns with a biblical text, of the Christian liturgical tradition.
Anyone who has ever been to an Anglican service of Evensong will have heard it sung or chanted alongside the Nunc Dimittis or Song of Simeon.
Despite its ubiquity, the words are quite radical: “He hath exalted the humble and meek,” “He hath sent the rich empty away,” or my favorite, “He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.”
Queer Theologian Robert Goss has written of this essential Christian text:
“While traditional churches read [The Magnificat] as the narrowing-down of women’s roles or idealization of women’s subordination, the centrality of women in the story of God’s liberative action is revealed. God shatters the normativity of heterosexual patriarchy.
“Mary the queer prophetess sings how God will upset the social world, bringing down the mighty and elevating the lowly. God’s actions will queer the world by turning it upside-down, for Mary will bear a child who will queer the world, disrupting the social world.
“Mary sings a song of liberation of the queer community and for all oppressed peoples and for all queers forced to experience sexual shame.”
In the tradition I grew up in, we paid no heed to Mary or her song or its message, which is a shame, I think, as she and it clearly mirror the dissenting, anti-establishment ethos out of which that tradition springs.
What I’m finding most interesting about Mary’s song at this moment, though, is not simply that God chose to reveal God’s self outside of the established patriarchal order, but that Mary connects her assumption of annunciation to an ancient promise.
On this last night of Hanukkah I think it’s important to remember that despite the thousands of studied arrangements that give Mary the voice of a pure Anglican chorister angel, she was a just queer Jewish girl with an amazing gift to give the world.
I’m thinking the soundtrack of Mary’s Song is less English Cathedral and more Zoroastrian rock star?
Something like L’dor Va-dor set to We are the Champions?
From one generation to another we will
declare Your greatness,
and forever sanctify You with words of
Your praise will never leave our lips,
for You are God and Sovereign, great and