Thus Nephi described the mother of the Son of God when he beheld her in vision.
In such terms is Mary often described, yet we know little about this woman who was pure enough, righteous enough to step forward through the annals of time and eternity to magnify such a role.
Mary's father, Joachim, was a prince of Persia, descended from Esther and King Ahasuerus. Her mother was Anna, a teacher in the temple, in line of succession to the throne of Egypt. Anna was righteous and beautiful, yet for many years childless. She and Joachim took a vow that if they were blessed with a child they would give it unto the Lord. (*A noted lecturer presented this hypothesis of Mary's background. See author's note below.)
Thus, Mary was born, and presented to the temple to be dedicated to the service of God forever. And so she was. Yet, her temple training, learning of scripture, lessons in obedience, the opening of her heart to love of the Lord, were all preparing her for a holy calling she could not have imagined, much least anticipated.
Mary was a gentle child, loved of everyone. "She was a sweet singer, after her ancestor David. She used to compose songs, and sing the songs of David in the temple."
And did she not sing those same sweet songs in the still, hallowed space where the Christ-child was born?
When the angel appears to her, remember, he greets her with the words, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women." This was a salutation that startled her, for women were not customarily accorded such honor unless they were considered on equal grounds with the speaker; and the speaker right now was an angel.
"Fear not," he assures her, "for thou hast found favor with God." He goes on to explain the miracles that lie before her, and those already begun in the life of her cousin, Elisabeth. Mary listens. She knows what he is talking about. Her spirit quickens with understanding, and she replies from the depth of her own soul, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."