Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hannah and Mary dance for joy in the Lord

The Fourth Sunday in Advent is traditionally known as Mary's Sunday, when we light the candle of Love in the Advent wreath. I was asked to choreograph a dance for the choir anthem this Sunday, a duet for Hannah and Mary. Uniting Older and Newer Testaments, they make an interesting pair: Hannah was barren and unhappy, and she very much welcomed her pregnancy with Samuel (1 Samuel 1). Mary was young, just engaged, and at first did not welcome her pregnancy with Jesus (Luke 1:26-28). Both women sing songs of praise of God for over-turning the expected order: the barren conceive, the hungry are filled, the proud are scattered (1 Samuel 2; Luke 1:46-55). Contemporary composer Carolyn Jennings has set the two hymns to music as "A New Magnificat." I played the part of Hannah, while RA played the part of Mary. (You might recognize her from last year's World Communion Sunday trio.)

Hannah: My heart exults in the Lord;
My strength is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies;
I rejoice in God's salvation.

Mary: My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior,
Who looks upon a lowly handmaid with favor.
All generations shall call me blessed.

Choir: My heart overflows, Allelulia!

Hannah: There is none holy like the Lord;
There is no rock like our God.
Let not your mouth be arrogant,
For the Lord is a God of all knowledge.

Mary: For God who is mighty
Has done great things for me,
And holy, holy, holy is God's name.
And God's mercy is giv'n to God's people
From generation to generation.

Choir: My heart overflows, Allelulia!

Hannah: The bows of the mighty are broken,
But the feeble put on strength.
Those who were full are hungry,
And those who were hungry are filled.

Mary: Strong is the arm of the Lord,
Who has scattered the proud in their hearts;
God has put down the mighty
And lifted those of low degree.

Choir: For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's and on them God has set the world.

Hannah: The Lord kills and brings to life;
God brings low and also exalts.
God lifts up the poor from the dust
To sit with rulers and inherit a seat of honor.

Mary: Strong is the arm of the Lord,
Who has scattered the proud in their hearts.
God has filled the hungry,
And the rich have been sent empty away.

Choir: My heart overflows, Allelulia!
Hannah: Alleluia! / Mary: Alleluia!

Hannah: God will guard the faithful flock,
And human might shall not prevail.
The Lord will judge the earth;
And will exalt the pow'r of God's anointed.

Mary: For the Lord has helped the servant Israel
In remembrance of God's love and mercy,
Which was promised to Sarah and Abraham,
And to their children's children forever.

Choir: My heart overflows, Allelulia!

Hannah: Alleluia! Alleluia! / Mary: Alleluia!
All: Amen!

A recreation after the service of the simple pyramid with which the dance ended. Much to our relief, we were able to get into it on the first try during the performance, long skirts and scarves notwithstanding!

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