Text: Magnificat Setting: Morning Calm


by Heather Murray Elkins


Nothing’s as soft as a young mother’s song.

Who but God could trust it

to sustain creation with a thin thread of breath?

This lullaby, learned in the shelter of cell, skin and bone,

may lead to the broad or milky way,

but any place it’s heard is home.



Nothing’s as strong as a young mother’s song.

Vowels of the gospel start here;

Whispers grow in the dark;

shouts shatter the windows;

truth brings down the roof.

Fiercely single is the sound of our mother tongue.

All others, foreign accents,

like babble of the young

until the Spirit rises and fire descends.

For once, for now, for always,

a young mother hums a fragment of song

drawn from the dark, the ocean,

the drum of blood against bone.

Magnificat is sung,

an ancient evensong

whose charity of sound shatters thrones

unbinds the bound, birthrights the wronged.

Magnificat is sung 

to a hundred different settings,

in a thousand different tongues.

Out of the mouths of babes and infants,

comes the Spirit, breathing light,

forming night into a chorus:

Quasars on the descant

Quarks on solo parts.

And under their chant is the hush

and the hum of one mother’s song

for each of her daughters and each of her sons.



From "Where Is Your God?" in Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life, Vol. XXV, No. 1.


Heather Murray Elkins is professor of worship, preaching, and the arts at The Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. She is an ordained elder in the West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church and served as a pastor, truck stop chaplain, university minister, and an academic dean.