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Magnificat | SATB Chorus | 15'

Available in 4 voicings: with full orchestra, with chamber orchestra,
with string quartet & piano, or with
solo piano.


Again and again, I find myself drawn to poems and other writings that present a very human perspective on the divine. In Lynn Ungar’s poem “Magnificat,” she contemplates an apparent contradiction in Mary's words: that magnifying God could mean in fact mean making God smaller, in the form of a child. Just as the poem turns these words over, finding new meaning each time, the music spins these repeated phrases into new harmonic perspectives.


Ungar's poem grounds the traditional Christmas story in minute details like the urgent hunger of an infant. Her text, like all good poems, uses the small, precise, and confined nature of poetry to magnify our humanity.

Magnificat was commissioned through the following consortium: 

The Carson Chamber Singers through the Carson City Symphony Association, led by Richard Hutton (World Premiere); North Shore Choral Society, led by Julia Davids (Midwest Premiere); Harmonium Choral Society, led by Anne Matlack (East Coast Premiere); and Cantabile Chamber Singers, led by Cheryll Chung (Canadian Premiere). After the consortium premieres, this piece will be available for programming beginning in January 2024.



My soul doth magnify the Lord

said Mary, under circumstances

which make it something of a startling

utterance. Not I accept the will of the Lord.

Not I bow before the Lord.

Not even I give thanks to the Lord.

No, Mary, this young woman,

presumably unfamiliar with angels

or divine voices of any kind,

let alone those pronouncing

that salvation would grow inside

her ordinary flesh—this woman

who may be innocent, but hardly seems naïve—

says something remarkable.

My soul magnifies the Lord.

Who I am, what I do, how I choose

makes God bigger. As if God

were to slip between microscope slides

and appear in never-before-seen detail.

Which is, of course, exactly

what happens. Somehow,

in being magnified God gets small,

small enough to sleep amongst the straw

and the scent of farm animals.

God magnified becomes particular,

tangible, urgent as a hungry child.

And Mary, like so many women

before her and after, puts the baby

to her breast, where they both grow

vast in one another’s eyes.


—Lynn Ungar


Chamber Orchestra

String Quartet & Piano Demo

Piano Reduction & Chorus





B♭ Clarinet




SATB Chorus


Violin 1

Violin 2



Double Bass




2 Flutes

2 Oboes

2 B♭ Clarinets

2 Bassoons


3 Trumpets

4 French Horns

3 Trombones







SATB Chorus


Violin 1

Violin 2



Double Bass

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