The Virgin Mary in a 10th Century Anglo-Saxon Poem

Random art Shot: the Virgin Mary (with Unicorn accessory)
from The Annunciation with the Unicorn (c. 1480) Warsaw, National Museum

Another older essay (and one of my favorites): an examination of the Virgin Mary in the Anglo Saxon Crist, Advent Lyric IX, lines 275-347. Abstracted:   The Advent Lyric’s Virgin offers a unique vision of Christ’s mother. Conventional wisdom in the early Church held the Virgin Mary in esteem for her purity, maternity, mercy, and, above all, her passivity in conforming to God’s will, and the Old English Advent Lyrics celebrates each of these characteristics; in the early lyrics she is wondered at for her chastity, for which Christ chooses her as a mother; she is conflated with–some might say objectified as–the precious holy city of Jerusalem; and she is presented as a weeping virgin lamenting her betrothed’s doubt over her pregnancy. In each of these, the Virgin illustrates the idealized vision of demure femininity, yet she grows progressively stronger–and more active–within the Lyrics. By the end of the seventh set of Lyrics, she has confronted Joseph’s fears and chastised him for questioning her purity; however, it is Lyric IX that exemplifies the Virgin’s full strength and agency. The poet presents Mary as an active participant in the Incarnation in a celebration of the Virgin as “the glory of the world.”

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