A Latin Story

December 15, 2022

Good afternoon,

( In yesterday’s blog, I meant to write “Peace to those who are hurting, who can find no peace “, and not “Peace to those who are hurting, who cannot find no peace.)

I took Latin for four years in high school. Every once in a while it will help in Jeopardy, in crosswords or if I am reading a book. I will remember the Latin word for the verb ” to be ” ( esse ) or the word for blood, ‘ sanguin/sanguis ‘. Words come randomly, and out of nowhere. I used to tell my kids that I was a Latin scholar. That is not true.

In the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke, the tradition has given names to three longer spoken poems. The titles of these three poems are not in the Bible, but they have been given them by the church over the centuries. When the Empire became Christian, the Bible was read in Latin, and so these very important poems by Zechariah, Mary and Simeon were remembered by their Latin names.

Zechariah   –         Benedictus              Luke 1:67-80

Mary    –                 Magnificat               Luke  1:45-55

Simeon –               Nunc Dimittis          Luke 2: 29-32

Benedictus means the ‘ good words ‘ . Zechariah says these after he gets his voice back. He is telling the people what role his son, John, will play in the coming of the Messiah. He will be the prophet of the Most High.

Magnificat means ‘ magnificence or splendor’ . Mary words proclaim a new way of relating to each other. Everything will be turned upside down with the people most at risk for poverty  and violence will be in charge, and they will have peace. This is when the Messiah arrives.

Nunc Dimittis means ‘ now, I am allowed to depart’ . Simeon has waited a long time for the Messiah to arrive. He recognizes the Messiah in the child, as his parents come into the temple to dedicate Jesus to God. Following this poem, Simeon adds that a sword will pierce Mary’s soul. Then I believe he leaves.

What poem here in Luke’s story in chapters one and two speak to your experience this Advent and Christmas seasons ?


chaos in the winds

scattering my troubled thoughts

to land on soft clouds     MPL  2022