The Annunciation

The Annunciation

The Annunciation. Visit to Elisabeth. Magnificat.

(The Gospel History, Section 5)

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee. But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 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 his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also that which is to be born shall be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren. For no word from God shall be void of power. And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

The Annunciation

(The Saviour of the World, Vol I Book I Poem VI)

The Annunciation by Fra Filippo Lippi

The angel Gabriel went forth once more
On that high errand: came to Nazareth,
Planted ’mid streams and trees, whose careless folk,
Content, in darkness sate—the shadow of death;
There dwelt a son of David, Joseph named,
Betrothed to Mary, virgin of that house.

Alone upon the housetop knelt the maid;
Once more her urgent, passionate prayer she prayed—
“Send us Messias!”—When, lo, the angel came,
As friend, familiar, called her by her name.

“Hail, Mary!” said the seraph—in the word,
Angelic love and reverence were heard—
“All hail, thou happy Virgin, full of grace,
Who hast high favour found before the face

“Of God; the Lord be with thee; fear not thou!”
For she was greatly troubled; questioned how
(Within herself) had she offended; hold—
Had she made her petitions over bold?

Gentle, he reassured her; “Nay, fear not!
No word of thine in heaven hath been forgot:
Thou shalt conceive, and bear a Holy Son,
The very Son of God; whose reign, begun

“Within thy womb, in time shall have no end,
And over all the tribes of men extend:
Jesus, His Name; the Son of God Most High,
Yet shall He on thy breast, an infant, lie!”

.  .  .  .  .  .

As men walk forth by day, nor ever know
That all the air with colour is aglow,
Till here, black clouds, and there, a blushing rose
Lend surface, hues of beauty to disclose;—

“The rose is red,” then say they; “see the arc
The multi-coloured bow spreads o’er the dark
Rainclouds opposed to the sun!” Nor recognise
That all the purple, crimson, orange dyes

Are held in the white light, till broken rays
Let loose on this or that the hues they praise.
So is life held in God; nor needs, at best,
The will of any two to manifest.

Let there be Life,” His primal word; and straight
His creatures lived; endowed to propagate
Each after his own kind: so men grew used
To the one way; and, all their thought obtused

By long-continued custom, ne’er foresaw
That He who made the first, a second Law
Might bring forth from His counsels—for a Birth,
Should quicken all the recreant sons of earth!

Again the mandate issued: Be there life:—
And she whom no man yet had ta’en to wife
Conceived and bare a Son: the Virgin-born,
Come, after heavy night, the promised Morn!
But Mary understood not yet; nor we.

.  .  .  .  .  .

Not querulous, nor doubting—meekly, she,
Asking direction, did the angel show
That which perplexed her: “Seeing I no man know,
How shall this be after the wont of men?”
For great the mystery: the angel, then,
Showed how by immediate power of God Most High
The thing should come to pass; and how thereby
The Child born unto her should holy be,
The Son of God.

Because her hallowed glee

Must in her heart lie hid, the angel, kind,
Perceiving that to tell would soothe her mind,
Spake of Elizabeth, and her great hap—
How she, grown old, should soon have child on lap—

For every word of God shall be with power.
And Mary—scarce perceiving all her hour
Might bring—“Behold the handmaid of the Lord!
Be it to me according to thy word.”

St. Luke i. 26-39