The Heritage of Hannah

Another look at 1 Samuel, this time chapter two, in which the mother of Samuel give praise to God for the conception and birth of a long-awaited son:

My heart exults in the Lord,
my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in my victory.
There is no Holy One like the Lord;

there in no Rock like our God.Speak boastfully no longer,
nor let arrogance issue from your mouths.
For an all-knowing God is the Lord,
a God who judges deeds.
The bows of the mighty are broken,

while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,

while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.

The Lord puts to death and gives life;
he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich,

he humbles, he also exalts.
He raises the needy from the dust;

from the ash heap he lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage.
He gives to the vower his vow,
and blesses the sleep of the just.

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and he has set the world upon them.
He will guard the footsteps of his faithful ones,

but the wicked shall perish in the darkness.
For not by strength does man prevail;
the Lord’s foes shall be shattered.
The Most High in heaven thunders;
The Lord judges the ends of the earth,
Now may he give strength to his king,
and exalt the horn of his anointed!”

The allusions to the psalms are even more striking than in the sister composition of Hannah’s canticle, Luke 1:46-55. Psalm 113 is obvious in both for the prophecy of the upheaval of the established order. (Talk about a hermeneutic of disruption!) Also Psalm 18:3: the Lord is our Rock; Psalm 29:3: God’s glory thunders; and the imparting of Strength to the King, the Lord’s choice: Psalm 72, Psalm 97, and many others in the psalms and elsewhere.

Liturgically, Hannah’s canticle is your choice for Wednesday morning prayer, 2nd week.

I attempted to compose a setting of Hannah’s Canticle more than twenty years ago. But I gave up. It strikes me as needing a grittier effort than the Magnificat.

By the way, that’s Rembrandt’s mom modelling the biblical figure, or so they say.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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