The great Estonian composer Arvo Pärt celebrated his eighty-second birthday last month. It is likely that his music is performed more often than the music of any other living composer.
Performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, conducted by Paul Hillier (7 minutes)
The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Elizabeth’s visit to her cousin Mary when both of them are pregnant. Elizabeth will soon give birth to John, who will become John the Baptist. Mary will become the mother of Jesus. The two women are filled with anticipation, sensing the miracles which are to come. In words that countless composers have set as the Magnificat, Mary says:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”