A Hermeneutical Harmonic: The Four Canticles of Luke's Gospel as a Symphony of OT and NT Theological Themes
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The four canticles in Luke's Gospel (Mary's Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55; Zachariah's Benedictus, 1:67-79; the angels' Gloria, 2:14; and Simeon's Nunc Dimittis, 2:29-32) hold a unique place both in the canon of Christian Scripture and in the life of the Christian Church. They are set at the heart of the Scriptures because of their literary proximity and unique poetic response to the event to which all of the Scriptures point – the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. In the Church, the canticles have been used from the early centuries of Christianity in liturgies, as Christians adopt the words of Mary, Zachariah, the angels, and Simeon as their own. This thesis project reflects upon the four canticles both textually and musically. In a written analysis, I argue that the canticles achieve for Luke's narrative a hermeneutical “harmonic,” in that they provide a synthesis of ancient Jewish and early Christian theological themes. They thus both recapitulate many theological themes from Hebrew poetry in the Old Testament, and serve as an exposition for theological themes that Luke develops in the rest of his Gospel and Acts. In a musical composition for violin, alto, and bass, I aim to draw upon the ideas developed in the written analysis by putting several of the reflected upon Hebrew and Greek texts into the artistic form of the canticles themselves: a song to praise the Lord.