Please join us for a Choral Evensong for Candlemas with the choir of Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Sunday, January 31 @ 5 PM.
Candlemas or the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is a Feast Day celebrated by both the Western and Eastern Churches. The story is portrayed in Luke 2:22-40 where Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem 40 days after his birth so that Mary could complete her ritual purification. Ritual purification stems back to a Jewish tradition that women were considered unclean after the birth of a child. For 40 days for a boy, and 60 days for a girl, women weren’t allowed to worship in the temple. At the end of this time, women were brought to the Temple or Synagogue to be purified. After the ceremony women were allowed to take part in religious services again. The mother was to “bring to the Temple a lamb for a holocaust and a young pigeon or turtle dove for sin”; if she was not able to offer a lamb, she was to take two turtle doves or two pigeons; the priest prayed for her and so she was cleansed.
Combined with this is the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple since Jesus, as the first born male child, would be offered to God according to Mosaic Law in the redemption of the First-born. The Jewish practice of presenting the first-born of the womb began after the deliverance from Egypt. Since it was only through the sacrifice of the lamb that the first-born of the Israelites were spared, the Chosen people acknowledged that God had rights to the first-born. Thus when it came time for the woman to be “purified” the first-born son was given to God and then bought back with a price.
Mary and Joseph sacrificed two turtledoves and it was there that they encountered the priest Simeon who prayed what became called the Nunc Dimittis (Canticle of Simeon), which prophesied the redemption of the world by Jesus. Simeon held the baby in his arms and said that he would be a light for the Gentiles (Luke 2:32). It is for this reason that this event is called Candlemas. The Prophetess Anna was also there and she offered up prayers and praises to God for the redemption that Jesus would bring.
Candlemas has been the traditional time when the candles of the church are blessed for the upcoming year. According to some sources, Christians began Candlemas in Jerusalem as early as the fourth century and the lighting of candles began in the fifth century. Other sources say that Candlemas was observed by blessing candles since the 11th century. An early writing dating back to around 380 CE mentioned that a feast of the Presentation occurred in a church in Jerusalem. It was observed on February 14. The feast was observed on February 2 in regions where Christ’s birth was celebrated on December 25 instead of the older custom of Epiphany (Jan. 6).
Candlemas is known as the “Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple” in many eastern churches. Other traditional names in the western churches include the “Feast for the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary” as well as the “Meeting of the Lord”.
Evensong is the choral service of Evening Prayer, and was originally formed by combining the offices of Vespers and Compline. As with the other offices, and the Eucharist that we are most familiar with, it follows a specific outline:
Preces, hymn, Psalm, lesson, Magnificat, lesson, Nunc Dimittis, Creed, responses, Lord’s Prayer, intercessions, choir anthem, said prayer, hymn, dismissal.
Come and join us for a festive evening. All are welcome!