I heard my pastor use the term "Magnificat" when preaching in the book of Luke about Mary today. What is the Magnificat?
The Magnificat (also known as the Canticle of Mary) is the section of scripture found in Luke 1:46-55, in which Mary the mother of Jesus praises the Lord.
The term "Magnificat" comes from the Latin translation of the first line: "Magnificat anima mea Dominum" which means "my soul magnifies the Lord".
The Magnificat of Mary is her song (or canticle) recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 1:
Luke 1:26-55 (DRB)
26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. 31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. 33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? 35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: 37 Because no word shall be impossible with God. 38 And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
39 And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. 40 And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. 46 And Mary said:
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48 Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49 Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is from generation unto generations,
to them that fear him.
51 He hath shewed might in his arm:
he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
52 He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble.
53 He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
54 He hath received Israel his servant,
being mindful of his mercy:
55 As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
The Latin word and title for the canticle means 'magnifies,' coming from the Latin phrase which begins the canticle in the 'Western Bible,' the Latin Vulgate: "Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum" (My soul magnifies the Lord—Lk 1:46).