On Friday we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady, remembering her journey to the hill-country of Judah. There, at a site identified with modern Ein Karem on the outskirts of modern Jerusalem, she meets Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. The unborn John leaps in the womb as if to greet the unborn Messiah, Jesus, present in the womb of Mary. Several beautiful churches mark the site and a charming statue of the two pregnant women has been placed there in recent times. On the walls of the courtyard we find the great prayer that Our Lady spoke here, the Magnificat, in many different languages. 

Over the centuries it has been set to music by many composers, including Bach, Vivaldi and Monterverdi. Very popular is the modern version “And holy is his name” set to the Scottish folk melody “Wild Mountain Thyme”. 

Catch it sung well here.

And here is the Magnificat in the Grail translation, used in the Divine Office every evening.

My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her nothingness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age,
On those who hear 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,
remebering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
for Abraham and his sons for ever.

Fr Matthew