The question came to my mind when remembering the first sentence of the Psalm of Mary in Luke’s Gospel -Luke 1, 46- while meditating the verse 2 (or 3, according to some editions) of the other Psalm 33 (34) that we have read on the 30th Sunday in ordinary time. In my last entry,
I have translated the first half of that verse this way:
IN (or with or by) the LORD my soul renews like the moon
Let us put aside for a minute the poetical evocation of the moon and pay attention to the fact that the semantical agent is “the Lord”. In the contrary, according to the Latin Vulgata and the Greek versions, the agent is our Lady -the Virgin Mary- in Luke 1,46. And so, for example, the old KJV translates:
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
At a first glance it does not seem very humble from the part of the humblest servant of God. That didn´t matter to other translations which more freely say:
“My soul praises the greatness of the Lord!” (International Standard Version)
That did not matter to some wise, old commentators either. Origen, the great theologian master from Alexandria in the Antiquity, exposed brilliantly in his commentary to this verse of Luke, how spiritual greatness of the creature interacts heavily with the greatness of the Creator and contributes to make Him even greater.
But, anyway, this delicate reasoning does not match the Old Testament Psalm: It may be very possible that what Mary and/or the evangelist had in mind was Psalm 33(34). And this point of view does correspond with an alternative translation from a Semitic source, i.e. Peshitta.
As a matter of fact,ܡܘܪܒܐ may be either an active or a passive participle and the preposition “lam” may also be used -as I think this is the case- to introduce the agent in a passive voice sentence, so my proposed version is:
And Mary said, My soul is magnified by the Lord,
The consequence for musicians and composers of sacred music would not be extremeley severe: Instead of “Magnificat anima mea Dominum”, please, sing “Magnificata anima mea Domino“.