To His Serene Highness, Prince John Frederick, Duke Of Saxony, Landgrave Of Thuringia, Margrave Of Meissen, My Gracious Lord And Patron
SERENE and high-born Prince, gracious Lord! May your Grace accept my humble prayer and service.
… Therefore all rulers, since they need not fear men, should fear God more than others do, should learn to know Him and His works, and walk diligently, as St. Paul says in Romans 12:8, “He that ruleth, let him do it with diligence.”
Now I do not know in all the Scriptures anything that so well serves such a purpose as this sacred hymn of the most blessed Mother of God, which ought indeed to be learned and kept in mind by all who would rule well and be helpful lords. Truly she sings in it most sweetly of the fear of God, what manner of lord He is, and especially what His dealings are with those of high and of low degree. Let another listen to his love singing a worldly ditty; this pure Virgin well deserves to be heard by a prince and lord, as she sings him her sacred, chaste and salutary song. It is a fine custom, too, that this canticle is sung in all the churches daily at vespers, and to a particular and appropriate setting that distinguishes it from the other chants. May the tender Mother of God herself procure for me the spirit of wisdom, profitably and thoroughly to expound this song of hers, so that your Grace as well as we all may draw therefrom wholesome knowledge and a praiseworthy life, and thus come to chant and sing this Magnificat eternally in heaven. To this may God help us. Amen. ... - DR. MARTIN LUTHER. Wittenberg, 10 March, 1521.
And from a later letter to the same prince in late December 1522 or early 1523, Luther wrote:
… all the saints shall do naught else in heaven but praise God because He looked upon them when they were in the depths [of all woe], and there made Himself known to them and loved and praised by them.
The tender Mother of Christ does the same here, and teaches us, with her words and by the example of her experience, how to know, love and praise God. For since she boasts, with heart leaping for joy and praising God, that He regarded her despite her low estate and nothingness, we must needs believe that she came of poor, despised and lowly parents. Let us make it very plain for the sake of the simple. Doubtless there were in Jerusalem daughters of the chief priests and counselors, who were rich, comely, youthful, cultured, and held in high renown by all the people; even as it is to-day with the daughters of kings, princes and men of wealth. The same was also true of many another city. Even in her own town of Nazareth, she was not the daughter of one of the chief rulers, but a poor and plain citizen’s daughter, whom none looked up to nor esteemed. To her neighbors and their daughters she was but a simple maiden, tending the cattle and doing the house-work, and doubtless esteemed no more than any poor maidservant today, who does as she is bidden about the house. – Dr. Martin Luther