For the Jewish people, the Psalter was the favored book of prayer. Within it’s one hundred fifty poems, there was, literally, a prayer for every person and for every occasion. The Gospels show how often our Lord had recourse to this inspired collection of prayers. The Magnificat shows how thoroughly His Holy Mother had integrated the psalms into her life and prayer.


Scholars can enumerate the references and allusions to the psalms contained in Mary's canticle. But they also note that the Magnificat is strikingly similar to Psalm 113, the first of the Hallel psalms traditionally sung at Passover. Our Lady’s openness to the Spirit made her receptive to the unfolding of salvation history, which at the Annunciation became an integral part of her history.


In the Magnificat, Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, summons all the servants of the Lord to the great work of praise. She blesses the Name which is above every other name Phil. 2:9 and invites everyone to render homage to the Son whom she bore and named Jesus. She witnesses in her own person the great mystery which Psalm 113 celebrates — that the all-high. almighty God stoops from the heights to look down upon the poor the needy and the humble. He has looked upon the low estate of His handmaid.


The early sources show that St. Francis of Assisi, the ardent imitator of Christ and knight of Christ's immaculate Mother, had also integrated the prayer themes of Psalm 113 into his life and spirituality The Little Poor Man saw himself primarily as a servant of the Lord and thus, of His people: Since I am the servant of all, I am bound to serve all. Like the author of Psalm 113, Francis invited the faithful from the rising of the sun to its setting to praise the Name of the Lord! Thus devotion to the Holy Name is such an important component of Seraphic spirituality that Franciscans have celebrated it and promoted it for centuries.


Francis also experienced the gaze of the God Most High upon his human lowliness. He, who was the son of a merchant, was lifted up by God’s grace to become the founder of a great religious family. He who had been the extravagant King of the youth was raised by God's mercy to such perfect conformity with Christ that he bore in his body the wounds of Christ's Passion.


Psalm 113 with its echoes in Mary's prayer and Francis' life, continues to summon believers to the praise of God, The Church has designated it as the opening psalm of First Vespers for most of the Solemnities of the liturgical year. Psalm 113 invites us to take our place among the servants of the Lord who bless His Name from the rising to the setting of the sun. It summons us to see how the Most High has stooped from the heights, looked down upon our littleness and gladdened our hearts with His mercy and grace. Then we can ask in all truth; Who is like the Lord our God? And pray with all joy: Blessed be His Name!



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Blessed be His Name

Psalm 113





Praise, O servants of the Lord,
praise the Name of the Lord!

May the Name of the Lord be blessed
both now and for evermore!

From the rising of the sun to its setting,
praised be the Name of the Lord!


High above all nations is the Lord
above the heavens His glory.

Who is like the Lord, our God
who has risen on high to His throne
yet stoops from the heights to look down,
to look down upon heaven and earth?


From the dust He lifts up the lowly,
from his misery He raises the poor
to set him in the company of princes
yes with the princes of His people.

To the childless wife He gives a home
and gladdens her heart with children