...Elizabeth’s greeting of Mary is the basis for the widely-used Angelus. The reaction of the fetal John is both a foretelling of his own prophetic role as forerunner and “announcer” of the Messiah, and an expression of the joy that must eventually have overcome the women’s confusion and uncertainty. Elizabeth says that her baby “leapt for joy” in her womb – just the verb itself means a carefree skipping or leaping like lambs in a field.
obvious that the Canticle is modeled on the Old Testament Song of Hannah (another barren wife who is given a miraculous pregnancy), and there are many lines in the Canticle which seem to apply to Elizabeth more perhaps appropriately than to Mary, but the best scholars tend to believe that the Canticle is probably a later addition by Luke to his original Incarnation story, as a response to and a balance with the “Angelus Song” of Elizabeth which precedes it. It is likely that the Magnificat itself may originally have been composed by others in a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian community who identified themselves with the poor and powerless who were the remnant of the true Israel. Luke’s choice to include the hymn and to ascribe it to Saint Mary at the Visitation is a demonstration of his belief that the promises made to the Old Testament patriarchs are fulfilled finally (and only) in the birth of the Messiah – and that they are offered not only to all generations of the Jews, but to all people on earth.