The Origin of Elizabeth’s Song

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
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“When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!'”
Luke 1:41-42

Long before Christmas actually arrives, it is already on everyone’s tongue. You hear its music in the shops and stores. You see its lights and colors in people’s windows. And that familiar catchphrase, “Merry Christmas,” while not as universal as it once was, still speaks its customary message of goodwill.

But when Elizabeth opened her door to Mary, who had just arrived from Nazareth, customary greetings went out the window. Instead she cried out, “Blessed are you!” The Greek word translated “blessed” in this version is the word from which we get our English word eulogy, referring to the gracious, complimentary things we typically say of people at their death. It means “to speak well of, to express good wishes.”

“Blessed are you!” Elizabeth exclaimed. This is why her song, which begins in Luke 1:42 and covers four total verses, is traditionally known as the Beatitude of Elizabeth, conveying words of “supreme blessedness or happiness.” (The term beatitude is also applied to the individual verses of Matthew 5:3–12 because they begin with the same Latin word for “happy” that Elizabeth’s song employs.)

But notice: happiness is not what motivated Elizabeth to burst into blessing at the sight of Mary’s appearing, though Elizabeth did have good reason to be happy. Only recently she had been a childless woman, past childbearing age, but God had answered her lifelong prayer. In the months leading up to this visit from Mary, He had miraculously enabled her to conceive.

And yet the words of blessing she spoke came not from being filled with happiness, but from being “filled with the Holy Spirit.” She was not only a woman who was “righteous before God,” who walked “blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6); she was also willing to be controlled and guided by God’s Spirit. And that’s where her blessing came from—because she actually had no way of knowing Mary’s news at that moment, except by a revelation of the Spirit. He provided her both the insight and the incentive to bless Mary in a way that celebrated what her young relative was experiencing.

God has placed His Spirit inside His children to lead us, to counsel us, and, yes, even to show us what to say. His presence should affect the way we talk. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, our mouths should be filled with words like those of Elizabeth, words that are gracious and life-giving (“Blessed are you among women”), words that express our praise and worship (“and blessed is the fruit of your womb”).

Too often we speak before we’re consciously aware of the Holy Spirit’s direction and discernment about what to say. May we learn, as Elizabeth did, the importance of letting our tongues be guided by Him. This Christmas, ask Him to employ your words so that they bless those around you, saying not just what comes mechanically to mind, but what God Himself has given you to say—or sing!

My Prayer

Father, thank You for the opportunities You give each day to speak blessing into others’ lives. Help me see my words in terms of stewardship— not possessions to use as I want, but gifts to be shared at Your prompting and pleasure. May my speech always give evidence that Your Spirit truly resides within me, so that people feel Your touch when they hear my voice.

Key Reading

Psalm 85:8–9
“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.” (v. 8)

Proverbs 2:1–6
“From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (v. 6)

Ephesians 5:15–21
“. . . addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” (v. 19)

My Response

How would you assess the weight and impact of most of your conversations? Think of deliberate ways you could elevate them this Christmas—in value, in blessing, in God-honoring tone.

For Further Reading:

The First Songs of Christmas

by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Let the songs of the first Christmas turn your heart toward God’s glory. During the holidays the musical tunes of the season are...

book cover for The First Songs of Christmas