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With the words " Magnificat anima mea Dominum" ( "My soul magnifies the Lord") begins on Latin song of praise of Mary , one of the three canticles of Luke's Gospel ( Lk 1.46 to 55  EU ) and falls within the framework of the childhood story that Luke handed down in view of Jesus. It is sung in the Liturgy of the Hours and is named after its opening words . But it is also in the Christian festivals of Christmas anchored liturgical, because it more broadly to the Christmas story belongs.

Narrative context, form and content

In the presentation of the Gospel of Luke ( Lk 1.26–56  EU ), Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth , who is pregnant with John the Baptist, a few days after the preaching by the Archangel Gabriel . This incident is called the Visitation of the Virgin Mary . Mary answers Elizabeth's prophetic greeting with a hymn in the style of the Psalms . The Magnificat is an old Marian song. This is "not uncommon in view of the series and importance of Old Testament women's songs that tradition ... passes on". This is followed by the birth of John the Baptist. The hymn has multiple echoes of the hymn of praise of Hanna , the mother of the prophet Samuel , in 1 SamEU .

On the basis of her faith, Mary praises God as the one who turns to her and all the low, the powerless and the hungry in order to lift them up, whereas the mighty, rich and haughty are thrown from their thrones. Mary herself "belonged to the lower classes of the people, to the lowly and ineffective, even if she was betrothed to a Davidid and perhaps came from the royal family herself".

The Magnificat is Mary's longest verbatim speech in the New Testament.


Original Greek text Latin ( Vulgate VUL ) Luther Bible 1912 Standardized translation ( EU )

Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον

καὶ ἠγαλλίασε τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐπὶ τῷ Θεῷ τῷ σωτῆρί μου,

ὅτλύς ἐπέβῦεττ εντντωστωστω, ὅτλς ὅπέβῦετψτεντντωστωστωτω, ὅτλύς ἐπέβῦ πτω πτντς ντωστωτω, ὅτλίς ἐπέβῦ πτω πτν ντοτως ντωστω, ὅτύπς ἐπέβῦετττεν ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν μακαριοῦσί με πᾶσαι αἱ γενεαί.

ὅτι ἐποίησέ μοι μεγαλεῖα ὁ δυνατός καὶ ἅγιον τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ,

καὶ τὸ ἔλεος αὐτοῦ εἰς γενεὰς εες γενεὰς γεοβς φνομς φτομς φνοβος φτομος φνόος φνομς φνοβφς φτομς.

Ἐποίησε κράτος ἐν βραχίονι αὐτοῦ,
διεσκόρπισεν ὑπερηφάνους διανοίᾳ καρδίας αὐτῶν ·

καθεῖλε δυνάστας ἀπὸ θρόνων καὶ ὕψωσε ταπεινούς,

πεινῶντας ἐνέπλησεν ἀγαθῶν καὶ πλουτοῦντας ἐξαπέστειλε κενούς.

ἀντελάβετο Ἰσραὴλ παιδὸς αὐτοῦ, μνησθῆναι ἐλέους,

καθὼς ἐλάλησε πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶαὸν, τῷ Ἀβπἰαὰμς ατατρας ἡμῶαὸν, τῷ Ἀβπἰαὰμς ατατ ῦβρέαὰν, στῷ Ἀβπἰαὰμς ατατῦ βπἰαὰμστατῷ βρἰαὰμς αἰῶτῦ ῦστἰαττατῷ ῦσπἰαὰμστατῦ ῦσπἰαὰμσατατο.

Magnificat anima mea Dominum,

et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.

Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae. Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.

Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est, et sanctum nomen eius.

Et misericordia eius a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.

Fecit potentiam in brachio suo, dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.

Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles.

Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes.

Suscepit Israel puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae suae.

Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semini eius in saecula.

My soul lifts up the LORD,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;

for he has seen the humility of his maid. See, from now on all the children's children will call me blessed;

for he did great things for me, who is mighty and whose name is holy.

And his mercy endures always for and for those who fear him.

He exercises violence with his arm and distracts those who are arrogant in their heart's mind.

He pushes the mighty from their chairs and lifts the lowly.

He fills the hungry with goods and leaves the rich empty.

He thinks of mercy and helps his servant Israel up,

as he spoke to our fathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.

My soul praises the greatness of the Lord

and my spirit exults in God my Savior.

For he has looked at the lowliness of his maid. Behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.

For the mighty one has done great things for me, and his name is holy.

From generation to generation he has mercy on all who fear him.

He does powerful deeds with his arm: He distracts those who are full of pride in their hearts.

He overthrows the mighty from their throne and exalts the lowly.

He gives gifts to the hungry and leaves the rich empty-handed.

He takes care of his servant Israel and thinks of his mercy

which he promised our fathers, Abraham and his descendants forever.

Parallels in the Septuagint

The Magnificat is fed by thoughts from the Psalms and the Hebrew Bible . Lukas processed a number of quotations in his Magnificat, as the following overview shows:

Bible passage in the Gospel of Luke Wording Magnificat (Gospel of Luke) Parallel Bible passage in the LXX Wording in the Septuagint (German translation)
Luke 1:46 And Mary said,
My soul makes the Lord great.
1 Samuel 2: 1 And she ( Hannah ) said,
My heart was made strong in the Lord.
Luke 1:47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:18 But I will rejoice in the Lord, rejoice in
God my Savior.
Luke 1:48 ... because he looked at the humiliation of his slave girl,
because, behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed:
1 Samuel 1:11
Genesis 30:13
If you look reliably at the humiliation of your slave.
I am blessed because women call me blessed.
Luke 1:49 For the mighty one has done great things for me,
and his name is holy.
Deuteronomy 10, 21
Psalm 111, 9
... because he has done great things for you.
His name is holy and terrible.
Luke 1:50 And his mercy on families and families, those who fear him. Psalm 103:17 But the mercy of the Lord forever and ever on those who fear him.
Luke 1:51 He did an act of strength with his arm,
he dispersed the haughty in the disposition of their hearts:
Psalm 89:11 You have humbled the haughty man like a wounded man,
and with the arm of your might you have scattered your enemies.
Luke 1:52 He brought rulers down from thrones,
and exalted the humiliated.
Job 12, 19 b
Job 5, 11
He overturned rulers of the earth;
who creates that the humiliated (rise).
Luke 1:53 He filled the hungry with goods
and sent the rich away empty.
Psalm 107: 9
Job 12: 19a
He filled the starving soul with goods.
The priest sends away as prisoners of war ...
Luke 1:54 He took care of his servant Israel
to remember mercy;
Isaiah 41
: 8 Psalm 98: 3
But you, Israel, my servant Jacob ...
He remembered his mercy for Jacob.
Luke 1:55 Just as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and his seed for ever.
Micah 7:20

2 Samuel 22:51
You will give truth to Jacob and show mercy to Abraham, as you swore to our fathers in the days before.
He who makes great the salvation of his king,
and brings mercy to his anointed, David and his seed for ever.

The lack of originality of the Magnificat has been criticized, since it is “just an accumulation of different scriptures, a series of Old Testament thoughts. But this mosaic-like summary of scriptural words results in an original whole, since it praises a unique event, the election of Mary as the mother of the Messiah, and is harmoniously adjusted to it. It is not unusual when a devout Jewish girl, deeply rooted in the religious beliefs of her people, expresses her gratitude with words of the Scriptures. "


The Magnificat is only contained in the Gospel according to Luke , who of the evangelists is most interested in the marginalized, and propagates the importance of this theological concern right at the beginning of the Gospel. Modern interpretations like to underline the strength of Mary and the "revolutionary" aspect of her song.


  • Martin Luther : The Magnificat, Germanized and interpreted (= Weimar Edition . 7). Pp. 544–604 (started in November 1520, completed on the Wartburg in 1521).
  • Paul-Gerhard Nohl, article Magnificat. In: Paul-Gerhard Nohl: Latin church music texts. History - translation - commentary. 4th edition. Kassel u. a. 2006, ISBN 3-7618-1249-3 , pp. 134-154.

Dialectical theology

The representatives of dialectical theology in particular repeatedly stated the harsh content of this New Testament Psalm:

Karl Barth presented the Magnificat during the Advent season of 1962 in the prison in Basel as part of a prison service and said in summary: "In a house in which the labored and burdened, the poor and the poor, the really hungry live - and therefore in a house like that, in which we are right now - fits the Christmas party perfectly. Only in such a house! But definitely in one of these! "

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes about the Magnificat: “This song of Maria is the most passionate, wildest, one could almost say the most revolutionary Advent song that has ever been sung. It is not the gentle, tender, dreamy Maria as we see her in pictures, but it is the passionate, carried away, proud, enthusiastic Maria who speaks here ... a hard, strong, relentless song of falling thrones and humiliated lords of this world , of God's violence and of human powerlessness. "

Helmut Gollwitzer headed a sermon on the Magnificat with the words: God is the revolutionary and then stated: "God keeps messing everything up, and the interplay of history that we observe at all times is his work."

Feminist theology

In the feminist theology and the theology of liberation , the Magnificat also plays a major role:

Wilhelm Fuhrmann expresses that the framework of the Magnificat represents "a story of two women - without a man". Fuhrmann interprets the song of Mary in liberation theology as a “revolutionary song”, which aims at the total change of conditions and circumstances: the poor and the powerless should be helped, at the expense of the rich and powerful. It is remarkable that this world revolution song is put into a woman's mouth by Luke. Through the birth of Jesus, Mary experienced her “de-humiliation”.

Dorothee Sölle also takes up the idea of ​​the liberation of women: “My mind will come out of fear. The empty faces of women will be filled with life and we will become human beings. [...] The rule of males over females will come to an end "and" objects become subjects ".

Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter also emphasizes a strengthening of the role of women: God make “out of a small, humiliated, fearful woman a strong, significant, courageous woman, gives her the strength to transform the externally miserable situation into something strong. [...] The kingdom of God will reverse the social fabric of injustice ”. Mary's prophetic message also applies to the power structures between women and men, within which most women still belong to the powerless and poor. Maria rehearses "the reversal of the sexist balance of power". She contradicts the humiliations that marked her time.

Liturgical usage and hymnology

Liturgy of the Hours and Gregorian Chant

The Magnificat is one of the basic texts of Christianity . In the Divine Office it is part of the morning prayer in the Eastern Church . In the western church, on the other hand, it is the highlight of the evening Vespers , in which it is sung solemnly in Gregorian style (on Sundays and festive days it is festive with incens and in some places with candlesticks ).

Like the Psalms and the other Cantica , the Magnificat ends in Vespers with a doxology , the Gloria Patri (“Glory to the Father”).

Martin Luther suggested singing it on the 9th psalm tone . For the Protestant Church he determined: “It is fair to let this song remain in the Church!” , Although otherwise he wanted to see Marian piety limited.

Jacques Berthier created several versions (four-part choral compositions, canons ) of the Magnificat for the daily prayer of the Taizé Community , which have found their way into many European hymn books and meditative liturgies.

German psalmody

  • My soul praises the greatness of the Lord. In: God's praise 631.4 (9th psalm note), 634.4 (2nd psalm note), 644.4 (7th psalm note)
  • My soul lifts up the Lord. In: Evangelical hymn book , Bavaria / Thuringia edition 799
  • My soul starts a song for you, a song of praise from a woman in good hope . In: Women's songbook, Stuttgart 1993

Magnificat paraphrases

Based on the appreciation of the Magnificat by Martin Luther (see his well-known Magnificat interpretation), a number of Magnificat paraphrases arose in the Protestant area. Erasmus Albers ' Mein Seel, o Lord, must praise you (from the year 1534) found its way into the Evangelical Hymnal (EG 308). Other Magnificat songs are:

  • Paul Ernst Ruppel : My soul lifts up the gentlemen. In: Evangelisches Gesangbuch 310 (three-part canon from 1938)
  • Fritz Enderlin: The Lord lifts up my heart and soul. In: Evangelisches Gesangbuch 309 (from 1952)
  • Maria Luise Thurmair : I want to praise the gentlemen. In: Evangelisches Gesangbuch, edition for Bavaria and Thuringia 604 (year 1954); Gotteslob 395 ( GL old 261) (year 1971)
  • Jacques Berthier : Magnificat anima mea , double canon for 4 voices each, in: Evangelisches Gesangbuch, Württemberg 573 edition (from 1978)
  • Jürgen Henkys : God's praise wanders. In: Hymnal of the Evangelical Reformed Churches in German-speaking Switzerland (from 1983), music: Manfred Schlenker (1985)
  • Hartmut Handt : Joy came up with a song (1985; music: Nis-Edwin List-Petersen , 1986) EG 580 Hannover / Bremen , GEmK 598 , MG 238
  • Martin Schraufstetter, My soul lets the Lord be great (music by the author), in: Gotteslob (some parts of the diocese) (no year)

Magnificat and church year

The Magnificat belongs mainly to the Advent season , the Magnificat songs are assigned to the beginning of the church year , i.e. Advent , in many church hymn books . The Magnificat is spoken at this time by the congregation both as a liturgical prayer of the New Testament and in the form of songs. It prepares for the expected Christmas .

The Magnificat is also the gospel for the Feast of the Visitation on July 2nd. On this occasion, Johann Sebastian Bach composed the cantata Meine Seel auf den Herren , BWV 10, in 1724 .

Musical implementation

Numerous composers have created Magnificat settings.

Vocal works

The earliest polyphonic fragment comes from the mid-14th century. After that there were well-known works with this title, among others by:

Some composers have created several versions, adapted to the skills of the choirs or soloists scheduled for the (first) performance .

In the musical language of popular music, the Magnificat was z. B. by Michael Benedict Bender (My soul magnifies) , Ludger Stühlmeyer (children's cantata Open up, become light ) and Alan Wilson (My soul praises the greatness of the Lord) .

The oratorio Laudato si ' by Helmut Schlegel OFM with music by Peter Reulein for choir, orchestra and organ is based on the Latin Magnificat and texts by Pope Francis from the encyclical Laudato si' .

Organ music

In addition to the vocal settings of the Magnificat, there are also numerous compositions for organ, primarily from the 16th and 17th centuries, which use the cantus firmus of the Magnificat in the various church tones as the basis for so-called verses . Almost all organ composers of this time contributed works to this; Special mention should be made of compositions by Heinrich Scheidemann in the I. to XIII. Ton, Girolamo Frescobaldi , Johann Caspar Kerll , Claude Balbastre , Jean-François Dandrieu , Nicolas Antoine Le Bègue , Jacques Boyvin , Michel Corrette , Jean-Adam Guilain or Johann Erasmus Kindermann . The individual verses of the Magnificat were performed alternately with a choir or a schola.

In the course of the efforts to create collections of light, high-quality organ music for the various liturgical circumstances of the church year, such Magnificat verses were again written by romantic composers, e.g. B. by Alexandre Guilmant and César Franck in L'Organiste . In the 20th century, Charles Tournemire also created his Postludes Libres pour des Antiennes de Magnificat op.68 in this tradition .

The tonus peregrinus , which is commonly associated with the Magnificat as the psalm tone, was underlaid with a German text (“Meine Seel röst den Herren”) and in this form is one of the most famous evangelical chorales . This was taken as the basis for a large number of fugues, including Johann Sebastian Bach for his fugue on the Magnificat pro organo pleno BWV 733; The 4th Schüblerchoral BWV 648 is also based on this melody, this is a transcription of an aria from the cantata Meine Seel raises the gentlemen , BWV 10, which is based on the German Magnificat . A well-known romantic organ work that also quotes the tone peregrinus is the organ sonata No. 4 in A minor op 98 by Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger .


Web links

Commons : Magnificat  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Kaut: Magnificat. I. New Testament . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 6 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1997, Sp. 1191 f .
  2. Ulrike Mittmann-Richert , Magnificat and Benediktus. The oldest evidence of the Jewish Christian tradition of the birth of the Messiah, Scientific Studies on the New Testament (WUNT), 2nd series 90, Tübingen 1996, p. 143, ISBN 3-16-146590-3
  3. Rudolf Schnackenburg , Das Magnificat, seine Spiritualität und Theologie, in: Geist und Leben 38, Würzburg 1965, p. 346
  4. Quoted from The Bible or all of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Stuttgart 1912 at ..
  5. Selection from: Novum Testamentum Graece , ed. by Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle , Stuttgart 1979, 26th edition, p. 153.154
  6. Rudolf Schnackenburg, Das Magnificat, seine Spiritualität und Theologie, in: Geist und Leben 38, Würzburg 1965, p. 343
  7. Interpretation of the Magnificat by Jonas Trageser on Dormition, accessed on November 12, 2016.
  8. ^ Karl Barth: Sermons 1954–1967. ed. by Hinrich Stoevesandt (= complete edition. Volume I / 12). 2nd Edition. Zurich 2001, ISBN 3-290-16102-1 , p. 218.
  9. Quotation in: Hartmut Handt, Armin Jetter: Full of joy. Song devotions on Sundays and festivals of the church year (= Strube Edition. 9044). Strube, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-89912-071-X , p. 20.
  10. Helmut Gollwitzer: turn to life. Sermons 1970–1980. Munich 1980, ISBN 3-459-01300-1 , p. 115.
  11. Wilhelm Fuhrmann: Women proclaim God's world revolution. In: Eva Renate Schmidt, Mieke Korenhof and Renate Jost (eds.): Read feminist. 32 Bible selected texts, Volume I . Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-7831-0909-4 , pp. 203-208.
  12. ^ Dorothee Sölle: Magnificat. In: Sigrid and Horst Klaus Berg (eds.): Waiting for him to come. Advent and Christmas. Biblical texts alienated . Volume 2. Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-7668-0809-5 , pp. 31-32.
  13. Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter: Die Reise der Pachamama , 1989. Quoted in: Peter Godzik : Calwer Predigthilfen, New Series, 1st Half Volume: Advent to Ascension, Series I / 1 . Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-7668-3048-1 , p. 37 f.
  14. Luther quote in: Herbert Goltzen: The daily worship. In: LEITURGIA III, Handbook of Evangelical Worship Service. Kassel 1956, p. 190.
  15. Ursula Jung (ed.): The new women's song book. Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-7831-1264-8 , pp. 22-23.
  16. Martin Senftleben: Living with the church year. A handout for our church services. Konstanz 1988, ISBN 3-7975-0342-3 , p. 12.
  17. ^ Editing of the Franziskaner: Oratorio Laudato si '- world premiere . Ed .: Provincialate of the German Franciscan Province. Autumn. meinhardt publishing house and agency, Idstein 2016, p. 4 .