Today is what we call a “lesser festival” in the Church Year. Today’s guest of honor is Luke, the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke’s gospel has a number of identifying characteristics, such as a focus on God’s radical hospitality and the Jesus story placed in a particular political and religious context.
But Luke’s gospel also has another unique attribute: it gives us three ancient songs which the Church still sings today.
The first, known as the Benedictus, is traditionally sung at morning prayer. It includes these familiar words:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people
and redeemed them.
The second song is the Magnificat (also known as Mary’s Song), which is often sung at evening prayer. (I’ve written about this before. I’ve also recommended an amazing recording of the song by Emmaus Way!)
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor
on the lowliness of his servant.
Lastly, the Nunc Dimittis is sung at evening prayer, and, in some traditions, after Holy Communion. These words might ring a bell:
Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.
In all three of these songs, we see a snapshot of Luke’s gospel: God looks favorably upon all people, even the lowly, and brings them good things. Thank you, Luke, for showing us this image of God!