The Magnificat, also called the Song of the Theotokos, is a hymn taken from the words of the Theotokos. Shortly after the Annunciation of Archangel Gabriel to the Theotokos, she visited the wife of Zachariah, her cousin Elizabeth, who was herself pregnant with John the Baptist; in response to Elizabeth's salutation, Mary spoke the words of the Magnificat, which accordingly appear in the Gospel of Luke, 1:46-55.
Although the Magnificat was originally written in Greek, like other New Testament texts, it is often found in Latin or the vernacular. Its name comes from the first word of the Latin version. The words often compared to the Prayer of Hannah (1 Sam. 2:1-10).
- My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
- For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
- For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
- And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
- He has shown strength with His arm; he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
- He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.
- He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.
It is accompanied by a refrain that is sung between the verses, called the megalynarion:
- More honorable than the cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim, without corruption you gave birth to God the Word: true Theotokos, we magnify you.
The Magnificat is sung during the Sunday Orthros service following the eighth ode of the canon, and, with the Song of Zachariah, makes up the ninth ode of the canon.
The megalynarion (the refrain above) also appears as part of the hymn "It is truly meet" (Axion estin) which is sung during Divine Liturgy during the Eucharistic Prayer as the priest commemorates the saints.