Evensong for Candlemas will be held February 4, 2018, at 5:30 pm in the Cathedral.
Candlemas is also known as the Feast of the Purification. It commemorates the presentation of Jesus and the purification of Mary in the Jerusalem Temple forty days after Jesus’ birth, in accordance with the requirements of Jewish law (Lv 12:2-8). The feast is celebrated about forty days after Christmas; this year we will celebrate it on the nearest Sunday, which is February 4. This celebration will feature the Cathedral’s Orvis Choral Scholars, with music including a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by Thomas Tallis, the anthem “When Mary to the Temple Went” by Johannes Eccard, and service music by William Byrd and C. H. H. Parry.
According to Luke 2:22-39, the presentation of Jesus was the occasion of the meeting of Jesus with Simeon, a “just and devout man” and his wife Anna, at which Simeon recognized that this baby was the Messiah. Simeon’s prayer of blessing is the basis for the canticle Nunc dimittis, which is always sung at Evensong:
- Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
- Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
- Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
- Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.
English (Book of Common Prayer, 1662):
- Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
- For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
- Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
- To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Christian celebration of the feast dates from the fourth century in Jerusalem. Since the seventh century, it has included a procession with candles and the singing of the Nunc dimittis. The celebration came to include the lighting and blessing of the candles which will be carried in processions for the remainder of the year.