Mary, Joseph and the Angels

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Written by Ben Allaway

With today’s scripture being the famous Song of Mary, also known as the Magnificat, where Mary praises God in response to the revelation that she will bear the Messiah, it is a good opportunity to share a work that provides a bit of the back story to how she received this news.  It involves angels.

In most versions, it is the angel Gabriel, or an unnamed “angel of the Lord”, who appears and shares the news.  In 1997, I wrote a large work called ANGELUS: In Excelsis which is about all of the involvement of the angels in the Christmas story.  In three movements, the second is titled, Angelus ad Virginem, et in somnis, or Angels to the Virgin, and in a dream.

Taken from Luke 1:26-38 and Matthew 1:20-24, Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her what is to happen.  The angel also appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife because she is still a virgin and is to bear the Son of God. Both Mary and Joseph are told that they will name the child Jesus.

The two stories are told simultaneously, and come together finally at the word “Jesus.”   Mary asks, “How can this be?”, and the angel describes how “the power of the most high will overshadow you.”  They are told, “And he shall reign over Israel forever.  He will be great.  God will give him the throne of David.  He will save his people from their sins.”

Scored for mixed choir, soloists, brass, percussion and organ, we are able to perform this work through the generous help of Marian Easter through the Friends of the Arts at First.

Our musicians on the Sunday before Christmas are:

  • Vivian Mogensen, soprano solo
  • Kenton Jordan, tenor solo
  • Derek Hessing, Trumpet 1
  • Andrew Sowatzke, Trumpet 2
  • Petrino Ippolito, Horn
  • Brad Sparks, Trombone & Tuba
  • Laura Burns, cymbals
  • Stan Dahl, Timpani
  • Jon Stafford, Windchime
  • Linda Wibben, Organ

String Ensemble:

  • Ann Merkley, Shanna Ford, Violin
  • Betty Miller, viola
  • Chuck Kuba, bass

The other anthems of the service include I Wonder As I Wander, a beautiful expression of amazement about what Mary went through, and Cradle Song, a loving welcome of the Christ child.  We hope you enjoy these special pieces, and all of the other carols of the day we will enjoy singing with our String Ensemble added to the mix!  You should be in the Christmas Spirit before the service is over!  Blessings of the Season to all.

Ben Allaway,

Dir. of Worship & Fine Arts

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