Canticle of the Turning (Rory Cooney)
by Katherine A. Greiner July 17, 2014
One of my favorite musical renditions of the Magnificat is Rory Cooney’s “The Canticle of the Turning.” The opening verse and chorus go like this:
My soul cries out with a joyful shout,
That the God of my heart is great.
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things
That you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight,
And my weakness you did not spurn.
So from East to West, will my name be blest!
Could the world be about to turn?
My heart shall sing of the day you bring!
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
And the world is about to turn!
Reminiscent of an upbeat Irish folksong, the “Canticle of the Turning” evokes that peculiar emotional fusion of lament and hope. When I pray with it, I imagine Mary being so filled with relief, excitement, nervousness, gratitude, joy, and hope that her prayer overflows into a spontaneous, raucous song. She starts her clapping her hands and tapping her feet. Suddenly she grabs the shocked Elizabeth by the hands and together the two pregnant women playfully twirl around the kitchen singing and laughing in celebratory anticipation! Our God is good! Our God is present! This beautiful, broken world that is so corrupt, so unjust, so hurtful, and so dark is going to change! God has not abandoned us! In fact, God’s grace fills us! And our salvation is at hand! And then the mute Zechariah walks in the door–startled by this display of uncontainable joy. How will he respond? Although unable to join in the song, perhaps he joins the dance. Just picture it: those soon-to-be mothers and Zechariah all caught up in the Holy Spirit’s whirlwind dance of promise! Perhaps dance comes to mind a few months later at his son John’s circumcision. It is then that Zechariah is “filled with the Holy Spirit,” regains his speech, and sings his own prophetic song.