FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST FEAST OF THE PURIFICATION OF THE VIRGIN
CANDLEMAS DAY (FEB 2)
The events commemorated today are recorded in Luke 2:22-39.
Counting forward from December 25 as Day One, we find that Day Forty is February 2. A Jewish woman is in semi-seclusion for 40 days after giving birth to a son, and accordingly it is on February 2 that we celebrate the coming of Mary and Joseph with the infant Jesus to the Temple at Jerusalem (1) to offer sacrifice on behalf of Mary to mark the end of her seclusion (see Le 12:1-8), and (2) to ransom or redeem (buy back) Jesus as a first-born male (see Ex 13:11-13; 22:29; Nu 18:15-16; Dt 15:19). As they did so, they were greeted by the aged Simeon. In a Sunday-School pageant, I once saw, the narrator said, "And now Simeon bursts into a spontaneous song of praise, assisted by the Temple Choir." His song, called the Nunc Dimittis
, has always had a prominent role in Christian worship. It has often been rendered in verse. I append one example.
Lord God, thou now hast set thy servant free, G-GGAGceddc--
to part in peace according to thy word. eefgGcBAAG--
Mine eyes have seen the Saviour, Christ the Lord ddef--cccfed--
prepared by thee for all the worlds to see; dpdBGceddc--
to shine on nations lost in darkest night, cfgaadggrg--
the glory of thy people, and their light. Gcdedfeddc--
(The versification is by Rae E Whitney, found in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982. The melody shown at the right is SONG 1 by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625). Note that:
We denote two octaves of white keys by CDEFGABcdefgab.
We denote black keys (beginning with c sharp) by pqrst.
We use a dash to continue the previous note for another beat.)
Because an old reading for this festival contains the line (Zephaniah 1:12), "I will search Jerusalem with candles," the day is also known as Candlema