A Magnificat Advent Calendar

The Advent calendar is a cherished winter tradition. We open a paper door on each day of the calendar from Advent until Christmas and read a saying or Bible verse to reflect upon spiritually. If the person who bought us the calendar really splashed out, we might get some chocolate out of each day’s slot as well! (I’ll give you three guesses as to which daily gift I gave more heed to when I was little, the Bible verse or the chocolate.)

I’d like to offer a different type of calendar as we enter the season. The Magnificat, or Song of Mary, is the cornerstone text of Advent. This is Mary’s response in Luke 1 after the angel Gabriel announces to her that she will bear a child and name him Jesus, and Mary goes to share the news with her cousin Elizabeth.

The Magnificat as it occurs in the Book of Common Prayer in the canticles for Morning and Evening Prayer contains twenty verses, including the Gloria Patri. If you were to pray about one of these verses every day except Sunday, they would cover from November 28 (the First Monday of Advent) through December 20, with December 21-24 open to reflect upon the entire text. I am curious as to what our Christmas worship would be like if we each committed to this simple spiritual discipline.

To help you out, I’ve created this “Magnificat Month” Advent calendar below.Each day has the text in the old Elizabethan English prayerbook language (Rite I, BCP pg. 50) and the contemporary prayerbook language (Rite II, BCP pg. 119). After the text of the Magnificat, there is a question to guide or open or challenge your prayer.

And so I invite you this Advent to spend time with this wonderful song of justice and love, this outpouring of hope and confidence from Mary as she undertakes an enormous task. May this be a rich journey of prayer for our community.


Monday 11/28 My soul doth magnify the Lord

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

What does your soul proclaim on an everyday basis? How do people see through your actions what your soul’s priorities are?
Tuesday 11/29 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior

My spirit rejoices in God my Savior

How often do you take time to simply enjoy God in your life? How can you create time for that and prioritize it during this busy holiday season?
Wednesday 11/30 For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden

For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant

Do you celebrate your places of spiritual poverty? Do you thank God for the ways in which you are small and lowly, knowing that God loves you for them?
Thursday 12/1 For behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed

From this day all generations will call me blessed

How do you live an ethical, principled, deeply spiritual life so that your children and grandchildren will call you blessed?


For he that is mighty hath magnified me

The Almighty has done great things for me

What are the great things God has done for you and your family? Can you give thanks for them today?
Saturday 12/3 And holy is his Name

And holy is his Name

What does the name of God inspire in you? Does it make you strive for holiness? Does it bring up fear, joy? Why?


Sabbath—worship for 2 Advent!
Monday 12/5 And his mercy is on them that fear him

He has mercy on those who fear him

What does it mean to have a fear of the Lord that is healthy? Perhaps “respect” or “awe” would be better terms. Do you want a God who is “user-friendly”? How can you be in relationship with a transcendent, almighty God?
Tuesday 12/6 Throughout all generations

In every generation

Mary lived generations and generations ago. What qualities of her are still admirable to us today? Which of her qualities would you like to emulate?
Wednesday 12/7 He hath showed strength with his arm

He has shown the strength of his arm

How has God’s strength been present to you in your life? In yourself? In people around you? Where in your life do you need God’s strength now?
Thursday 12/8 He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts

He has scattered the proud in their conceit

What do you think the proud are imagining in their hearts in this verse? What vain ambitions or self-congratulation do you need to scatter from your imagination?


He hath put down the mighty from their seat

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones

What mighty idols need to be cast down from their thrones in your life? What freedom might you attain from that de-throning?
Saturday 12/10 And hath exalted the humble and meek.

And has lifted up the lowly.

Who are the humble, meek and lowly in your life and in our county and community? How can you be a part of exalting them?
Sunday 12/11 Sabbath—worship for 3 Advent!
Monday 12/12 He hath filled the hungry with good things

He has filled the hungry with good things

What are you hungry for in this Advent season? What are the people around you hungry for? Are they literal or spiritual hungers or both? How can you be a part of God fulfilling those needs?
Tuesday 12/13 And the rich he hath sent empty away

And the rich he has sent away empty

Here Mary prefigures most of Jesus’ teaching on riches being a barrier and impediment to being with God. How do you practice giving away your riches to move closer to God?
Wednesday 12/14 He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel

He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy

What promises of mercy has God remembered and come through on for you? What promises of mercy are you still waiting on? How do you pray about them?
Thursday 12/15 As he promised to our forefathers

The promise he made to our fathers

What did God promise to the first generations at our church? What is God promising our church now that we can be part of for the benefit of generations to come?


Abraham and his seed forever.

To Abraham and his children forever.

Take some time today to pray for peace in Jerusalem, for Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and members of all faiths, that we might all grow together in grace as God reveals Godself to us.
Saturday 12/17 Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit

How do you show glory to God? How does your life reflect God’s glory? How do you see God’s glory in the people around you?
Sunday 12/18 Sabbath—worship for 4 Advent!
Monday 12/19 As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:

world without end.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever

Feel the smallness of your life in the scope of the eternity of God. Then marvel, with Mary, that God takes the time to single you out for grace, blessing, and call to service. How can you make the most of that grace and calling?
Tuesday 12/20 Amen.


What spiritual growth or learning have you experienced praying through the Magnificat?
Wednesday 12/21-Saturday 12/24 Pray whole text How can the Magnificat remain active in your heart through Christmas worship and beyond?



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