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The Magnificat, the words of Mary in Luke i. 47 starting with “My soul doth magnify the Lord”, is a canticle sung with an antiphon during the Vespers. There were many polyphonic settings starting from the 14th century and the text continued as part of the Vespers in many notable instances into the 18th century by which time it had also reached its full development as a stand-alone piece (with the inevitable major participation of J. S. Bach).

The Magnificat transferred to the classical period with a setting by C. P. E. Bach using his father's technique but in a classical form, and this reached full height in Mozart’s setting in his K339 Vespers of 1780.

Settings almost disappeared during the 19th century, but various 20th century masters have been inspired by the text and many modern, and even contemporary, major settings exist.


Germanic Latin text in bold, followed by English translation.

Magnificat anima mea Dominum. My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.

Et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo and my spirit has exulted in God my saviour.

Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae; because he has regarded the lowly state of his slavegirl;

ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent for look! from now on (they) will say that I am blessed

Omnes generationes. (In) every generation.

Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen eius. because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Et misericordia a progenie in progenies timentibus eum. and his mercy is passed from generation to generation for those who fear him.

Fecit potentiam in brachio suo, dispersit superbos mente cordis sui. He has made known the power of his arm, scattered those who are arrogant in the thoughts of their heart.

Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles. He has put down the mighty from their seats (of power) and raised up those who are lowly.

Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes. The hungry he has filled with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty

Suscepit Israel puerum suum recordatus misericordiae suae. He has taken under his protection Israel his boy, and remembered his mercy.

Sicut locutus est ad Patres nostros, in accordance with what he said to our fathers,

Abraham et semini eius in saecula. to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

Gloria Patri, gloria Filio, Glory to the Father, glory to the Son

gloria et Spiritui Sancto! glory also to the Holy Spirit!

Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper As it was in the beginning and is now and will be always

et in saecula saeculorum. and throughout ages of ages.

Amen. Amen.