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With Heart and Voice

A Dramatic Reading of Mary's Song

This dramatic reading was written to show how the announcement of a coming Savior fit snugly into the history and expectations of God’s

people, how the Lord Almighty is a God of justice who watches over the needy, and how this God will be manifest in Jesus.

The reading is fairly dense. We sang Taizé-style songs between each section, and together this made up the bulk of the worship service. It could also work as the service of the Word, followed by a short sermon or meditation. If you choose to use it as the basis for the entire service, consider including some of the following songs:

“Song of Mary” (perhaps as the concluding song) SNC 102

“My Soul in Stillness Waits” SNC 95

“Psalm 40: Wait for the Lord” SNC 96

“Prepare the Way” RN 92, SFL 124, SNC 105, SWM 84, WR 174

“In God Alone” SNC 187

“In the Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful” SNC 220, WR 448

“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Stuttgart: PsH 329, SFL 122, Hyfrydol: CH 244, PH 2, SWM 83, TH 196, WR 153

[If possible, parts for Reader 3 should be spoken by a woman.]

Reader 1: Gabriel, messenger of God, spoke to a virgin from Nazareth named Mary and told her:

Reader 2: You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.

Reader 1: He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.

Reader 2: He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

Reader 1: Mary said:

Reader 3: Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.

Reader 1: Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

Reader 3: When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Reader 1: In a loud voice she exclaimed:

Reader 2: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!

Reader 3: Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord

Reader 2: would be fulfilled.

Reader 1: And Mary said:

Reader 3: My soul glorifies the Lord

Reader 2: and proclaims the greatness of the Lord.

Reader 3: My spirit exults

Reader 2: and rejoices in God my Savior,

Reader 3: for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One

Reader 2: the Almighty

Reader 3: has done great things for me—

Reader 2: holy is his name.

Reader 3: His faithful love extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation

Reader 2: from one age to the next.

Reader 3: He has performed mighty deeds with his arm

Reader 2: he has routed the arrogant of heart.

Reader 3: He has pulled down rulers from their thrones

Reader 2: but has lifted up the lowly.

Reader 3: He has filled the hungry with good things

Reader 2: but has sent the rich away empty.

Reader 3: He has come to the help of his servant Israel, fully mindful of his faithful love

Reader 2: according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

Reader 3: fully mindful of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.

Reader 1: Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

The Heart and Voice of Hannah

Reader 2: Mary was blessed.

Reader 1: For she believed that what the Lord had said to her would be fulfilled.

Reader 2: She spoke as with the heart and voice of Hannah

Reader 1: and many others of God’s people before her.

Reader 2: Hannah had prayed to the Lord in the bitterness of her soul that he would remove the shame of her barrenness.

Reader 1: And when God had blessed her she dedicated her son, Samuel, to the Lord, saying:

Reader 3: My heart exults in the Lord, in my God is my strength lifted up. There is no Holy One like the Lord, indeed, there is none but you. There is no Rock like our God.

Reader 1: The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble are now girded with strength.

Reader 3: Those who were full are hiring themselves out for bread, but the hungry need labor no more.

Reader 2: The barren woman bears sevenfold, but the mother of many is left desolate.

Reader 1: The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts.

Reader 2: He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to give them a place with princes and assign them a seat of honor.

Reader 3: For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

The Heart and Voice of Eliphaz

Reader 2: Mary was blessed.

Reader 1: For she believed that what the Lord had said to her would be fulfilled.

Reader 2: She spoke as with the heart and voice of Eliphaz

Reader 1: and many others of God’s people before her.

Reader 2: Eliphaz was Job’s friend, who counseled him after he received his great misfortune, saying:

Reader 3: The works of God are great, past all reckoning, marvelous things without number.

Reader 1: He sends down rain to the earth, pours down water on the fields.

Reader 3: He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.

Reader 2: The Lord frustrates the plans of the crafty so that they cannot succeed in their intrigues. He traps the wise in the snare of their own trickery, throws the plans of the cunning into disarray.

Reader 1: But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth, from the hand of the mighty.

Reader 3: So the poor have hope, and injustice must shut its mouth.

The Heart and Voice of Leah

Reader 2: Mary was blessed.

Reader 1: For she believed that what the Lord had said to her would be fulfilled.

Reader 2: She spoke as with the heart and voice of Leah

Reader 1: and many others of God’s people before her.

Reader 2: Leah, the wife of Jacob, exclaimed at the birth of their son, Asher, saying:

Reader 3: What happiness! All women will call me blessed! (Gen. 30:13)

The Heart and Voice of the Psalmist

Reader 2: Mary was blessed.

Reader 1: For she believed that what the Lord had said to her would be fulfilled. She spoke as with the heart and voice of the psalmist and many others of God’s people before her:

Reader 3: My soul praises God from my heart; let the humble hear and be glad. Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord, let us acclaim his name together. (Ps. 34:2-3) “Holy is he, and mighty!” You are a king who loves justice, who insists on honesty, justice, and virtue, as you have done for Jacob. (Ps. 99:3-4)

Reader 1: Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has performed wonders, his right hand and his holy arm have scattered the enemies and gained for him the victory. (Ps. 98:1; 89:10)

Reader 2: When the Lord builds Zion anew, he will be seen in his glory; he will answer the prayer of the abandoned, and will not scorn their petitions. God leaned down from the heights of his sanctuary, has looked down from heaven to earth, to hear the sighing of the captive, and set free those condemned to die. (Ps. 102:16-20)

Reader 3: He raises the poor from the dust, he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to give them a place among princes. He lets the barren woman be seated at home, the happy mother of sons. (Ps. 113:7-9)

Reader 2: He has fed the hungry to their hearts’ content, and filled the starving with good things. (Ps. 107:9)

Reader 1: The steadfast love of the Lord for those who fear him lasts from everlasting to everlasting; and his saving justice to their children’s children; to those who keep his covenant, and remember to do his commandments. (Ps. 103:17-18)

Reader 3: He remembers his covenant forever, the promise

he laid down for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. (Ps. 105:8-9)

The Heart and Voice of Isaiah

Reader 2: Mary was blessed.

Reader 1: For she believed that what the Lord had said to her would be fulfilled.

Reader 2: She spoke as with the heart and voice of Isaiah

Reader 1: and many others of God’s people before her.

Reader 2: Isaiah was a prophet of the Lord who proclaimed God’s might and justice:

Reader 3: The Lord is the everlasting God, his understanding is beyond fathoming.

Reader 1: He gives strength to the weary,

Reader 2: he strengthens the powerless.

Reader 1: Young men may grow tired and weary, the young stumble and fall,

Reader 2: but those who hope in the Lord will regain their strength. (Isa. 40:28-30)

Reader 2: For thus says the High and Exalted One whose name is holy:

Reader 3: I live in a high and holy place, but I am also with the contrite and humble,

Reader 1: to revive the spirit of the humble,

Reader 2: to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isa. 57:15)

Reader 3: Here is the Sovereign Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him,

Reader 1: the prize of his victory is with him. (Isa. 40:10)

Reader 3: He reduces princes to nothing,

Reader 2: the rulers of the world to mere emptiness. (Isa. 40:23)

Reader 3: I shall recount the Lord’s acts of faithful love, God’s praises, in return for all that God has done for us,

Reader 1: for his great kindness to the house of Israel,

Reader 2: for all that he has done in his mercy,

Reader 3: for the abundance of his acts of faithful love. (Isa. 63:7)

[pause]

Reader 1: With her one voice,

Reader 3: Mary spoke with the voices of many of God’s people who came before her.

Reader 2: At the same time, she addressed all those to come after her.

Reader 1: She spoke of promises of mercy and salvation fulfilled

Reader 2: and of promises yet to be fulfilled.

Reader 3 and Reader 2: My soul glorifies the Lord

Reader 1: and proclaims the greatness of the Lord.

Reader 3 and Reader 1: My spirit exults

Reader 2: and rejoices in God my Savior.

Excerpt

For other dramatic readings by Doug Porter, visit www.dramaticreadingsforworship.com.