§. 8.

O my dear Redeemer, who, in making choice of this Holy Virgin to be thy Happy Mother, hast regarded the low estate of  thy handmaiden, preferring that before all the outward pomp and grandeur wherewith we are too fondly taken, to give us an instructive instance that Humility is the Fountain and Fore-runner of Honor, for behold from thenceforth all generations do call me blessed:[1]

My Soul doth magnify the Lord[2],

For He that is Mighty hath don great things,

and Holy is his Name;

He hath shewed strength with his Arm,

when He put down the mighty from their Seats,

and exalted them of low degree, to help his Servant Israel

in remembrance of his Mercy.

Lord, since the poor and lowly in heart are so acceptable in thine eyes,

teach me to love retirement[3] and delight in devotion

as this Elect Virgin did,

and make me truly content and happy

in the lowest degree[4] wherein thy Providence shall think fit to place me.

And since thou art graciously inclined to fill the hungry with good things,

let her[5] Faith in relying on God’s ancient promises of mercy,

which he spake to our Fathers,

to Abraham and to his Seed forever[6];

her wisdom in treasuring up all thy sacred though mysterious verities[7];

her constant obedience to thy revealed Will;

her exemplary humility amidst all thy Graces conferred upon her;

and that Spirit of praise and thanksgiving wherewith

she rejoiced in God her Savior,

added to her modest chastity and holy fear,

replenish and adorn my soul and ife in all estates and conditions:

for thy Mercy is on them that fear Thee from Generation to Generation.

[1] Throughout this section, Traherne will be taking an re-arranging phrases from the Magnificat (so-called by taking the first word of Mary’s prayer of praise as given in the Vulgate):

Luke 1:46–56

46         And Mary said,

My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47         And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48         For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:

For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49         For he that is mighty hath done to me great things;

And holy is his name.

50         And his mercy is on them that fear him

From generation to generation.

51         He hath shewed strength with his arm;

He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52         He hath put down the mighty from their seats,

And exalted them of low degree.

53         He hath filled the hungry with good things;

And the rich he hath sent empty away.

54         He hath holpen his servant Israel,

In remembrance of his mercy;

55         As he spake to our fathers,

To Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

[2] Here, Traherne will appropriate the prayer as his own. The words taken from the prayer are italics in the original; retained here.

[3] Retirement here means, removal from company. The idea is to be removed from other people for the purpose of contemplation. “If it be inquired what meditation is, I answer, meditation is the soul’s retiring by itself, that by a serious and solemn thinking upon God, the heart may be raised up to heavenly affections.” Watson, Thomas. A Divine Cordial; The Saint’s Spiritual Delight; The Holy Eucharist; and Other Treatises. The Religious Tract Society, [reprint] 1846, p. 33. Originally published in 17th century.

[4] Social station or physical condition.

[5] Mary is an example of how the Christian should stand before God. We should not let the excesses of some to obscure the exemplar Mary is in her obedience to the word of God.

[6] Genesis 12:1–3

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 15:5–6

5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

[7] Truth which is not always easy to understand or readily apparent.