Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Candlemas!

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple!

Traditionally, this is the day when all candles are blessed.

No, not for the three days of darkness or for the End of the World in 2012 thing.

It is just that.  Candles are traditionally blessed on this feast day.

It is the 40th day after Christmas.  Did you know that?  :)

In the Missal of Paul VI, it is called the Feast of Presentation of the Lord, to give emphasis to Jesus being presented to the prophet Simeon and his prophecy we now call "Nunc Dimittis".  In the older Missal, today is called the "Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin" because the Virgin Mary, a devout Jew, followed the ritual purification of women who gave birth, and it must be done 40 days after (Leviticus 12:2-8).  That is why this tradition of bringing candles and of "churching of women" continues in the traditional movement and even in the Anglican Communion, though this may not be on the actual feast day.

So for this wonderful day when "a light for revelation to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel" has been presented to the Temple of the Lord, I offer this wonderful poem/hymn.

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

James Montgomery (1771-1854)

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