A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: Mary's response to the annunciation (Magnificat)


Gabriel visits MaryAfter Mary had heard from the archangel Gabriel that she would become pregnant with the Son of God, and that her elderly cousin Elizabeth was also expecting a baby, she travelled to see Elizabeth. Mary spent about three months with her cousin, who encouraged her. Mary responded with a song of praise, now known as the Magnificat (from the first word of the Latin version).

In her prophetic poem, Mary recounts all the great things God has done, focussing particularly on his mercy to those who acknowledge him. She reminds herself that God has little time for the proud, arrogant and self-sufficient, but has infinite love for those who are humble and needy. Mary declares that God is holy and all-powerful, yet delights to lift up those who are bowed down, giving them good things. He honours his commitment to his children (in those times regarded as Israelites descended from Abraham). 

Mary especially worships God for his kindness to her, and that, through no merit of her own, God is pouring out his blessings on her so that all future generations will honour her. The tone of the Magnificat overflows with joy that God has so blessed Mary.

The story illustrates:

  • God can perform miracles, as he did with both Elizabeth and Mary
  • God delights to reverse the usual rankings in society, humbling the proud and exalting the weak
  • Submitting to God’s will, as Mary did, can bring great joy.

Related topics

Big ideas from the Bible: Dreams, visions and prophecy; Women in the Bible

Bible References

Luke 1:46-56
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