Magnificat

In the spirit of yesterday’s posting on a Psalm 73 text in two settings from the Denson Sacred Harp, on the occasion of Helmet GrabPussy’s election as POTUS, a revisiting of another biblical text on striking down the prideful, powerful, and rich, and raising up the meek, humble, and poor.

Previously, a 1/15/12 posting “Evensong”, about the Magnificat from the Anglican Evensong service and an entertaining and spirited burlesque of (part of) it by J. Keene Daingerfield (Sr.) (Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky’s great-grandfather), with its stirring climactic phrase, “Away, you rich, you son of a bitch”. A text now worth revisiting.

The relevant part of the Magnificat in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer:

6 He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
7 He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
8 He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.

A paean to what we might call militant Christian charity, exalting the meek, humble, and poor and aeeking to protect them against those who would oppress them. Relevant in the present days in my country, whose POTUS-E is an intensely prideful, power-worshiping, extraordinarily rich man who shows no visible shred of Christian charity.

The text of the Magnificant is to be said or sung — chanted — by the celebrant priest. The elder JKD (whose son was my first father-in-law) was a notable, and notably outspoken, character in Lexington KY, and the main figure in many family stories, including several about his edgy relationship with the clergy of the local Episcopal church. In particular, he had his own version of one verse (labeled 8 above) of the Magnificat, which he would perform loudly and with relish (though, sadly, only in private). It simplified the wording some, added a wicked bit, and reduced the chant to three notes (a tonic note, unmarked below;  a high note, a fifth above the tonic, marked by italics; and a low note, an octave below the tonic, marked by underlining). The version I learned, with accented syllables marked (and with the metrical organization in an interlinear transcription that indicates metrical feet (separated by slashes), weak ( W ) and strong ( S )  syllables, and rests ( # )):

The póor he fílleth with véry good thíngs,
:  WS / WS / WWS / WWS
With véry good thíngs, hey héy!
:  WS / WWS / WS / #
The póor he fílleth with véry good thíngs,
:  WS / WS / WWS / WWS
The rích he sends émpty awáy.
:  WS / WWS / WWS / #

Awáy, you rích, you són of a bítch,
:  WS / WS / WS / WWS
Awáy, awáy, awáy.
:  WS / WS / WS / #
Awáy, you rích, you són of a bítch,
:  WS / WS / WS / WWS
Awáy, awáy, awáy.
:  WS / WS / WS / #

All the lines are tetrameter, with end-accented feet, either iambs (WS) or anapests (WWS).

Try it, you’ll like it. It’s also a monumental earworm.

(Thanks to Benita Bendon Campbell for reminding me.)

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