Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Candlemas Procession (February 2): Lumen ad Revelationem Gentium

It's customary to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation (AKA Candlemas. observed on February 2) with a Procession just before the start of the Eucharist itself (or before the start of Evensong).   Here is the antiphon Lumen ad revelationem gentium, one of three antiphons sung during that Procession; its name (in English, "A light to enlighten the Gentiles") is taken from a line in the Nunc Dimittis.  The Nunc is the Compline Canticle, and is also known as "The Song of Simeon"; its text is taken, verbatim, from Luke 2: 29-32.

The text of the chant itself is, in fact, the complete Nunc Dimittis; the Lumen refrain is sung between each verse: 



Here's another video of the antiphon with the chant score embedded, to make it easier to sing with; below that is the chant score by itself:






Luke 2 tells the story of "The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple" beginning at verse 22:  
And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;  (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)  And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.  And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,   Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
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;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Those last four lines, in italics, make up the Nunc Dimittis; this is the event celebrated in the Canticle itself (but of course has wider implications), and on the Feast of the Presentation, AKA Candlemas.

Here is a list of all the chant propers for the Candlemas Procession; the audio files (click the linked names below to hear them) were recorded at the Sao Paolo Benedictine Monastery.

In Presentatione Domini
Ad processionem


Antiphona: Is. 35, 4.5 Ecce Dominus noster (20.4s - 322 kb) score
Procedamus in pace (8.3s - 133 kb) score
Antiphona: Lumen ad revelationem gentium (1m27.3s - 1367 kb) score
Antiphona: Adorna thalamum (2m30.6s - 2367 kb) score



The following article about the Candlemas Procession comes from this terrific Candlemas page at Full Homely Divinity.  I believe the liturgy comes primarily from the Book of Occasional Services.
The Blessing of Candles and Procession

The liturgical event that gives this Feast its popular name is the blessing and distribution of candles, usually followed by a procession. The candles themselves have often had symbolic meaning ascribed to them. There are various ceremonies in the course of the church year in which a candle is seen as a symbol of Christ himself. The pure wax is understood to represent his human body, while the flaming wick represents his divinity. Candles blessed on this day are taken home, like palms, and kept for use at critical moments in the coming year. They may be lit in times of danger, such as severe storms and floods. Someone facing a personal crisis or difficult decision might light the Candlemas candle while praying and thinking through his situation. It is customary to light them when a priest ministers at a sick-bed, especially when death is imminent. Fisheaters.com records this old poem that describes the use of these candles.


This done, each man his candle lights,
Where chiefest seemeth he,
Whose taper greatest may be seen;
And fortunate to be,
Whose candle burneth clear and bright:
A wondrous force and might
Both in these candles lie, which if
At any time they light,
They sure believe that neither storm
Nor tempest cloth abide,
Nor thunder in the skies be heard,
Nor any devil's spide,
Nor fearful sprites that walk by night,
Nor hurts of frost or hail.


It is most appropriate that the blessing and procession begin somewhere away from the High Altar, which should be the destination, but not the starting point. Where weather and other circumstances permit, the blessing and procession might begin outside of the church, in front of the main entrance. A room apart from the church itself is a suitable alternative. It would also be fitting for the blessing and distribution to take place at the Christmas crèche, especially if that is not in the chancel. Wherever the blessing of the candles takes place, the figures of the Holy Family should be carried in the procession to the High Altar, or to a suitable place prepared for them near the High Altar.

It should be noted here that there are competing traditions regarding Christmas decorations. One tradition is that they are removed from the church and homes on Twelfth Night and the burning of the greens takes place that night. Another tradition allows for some or all of the decorations to remain until Candlemas (see below). In either case, the crèche remains in the church and homes until the Eucharist of Candlemas, following which it is dismantled and all remaining Christmas decorations are also removed.

In some churches, it is customary to bless the entire supply of candles to be used liturgically in the coming year, as well as to bless candles for the faithful to carry in procession and then take to their homes. Traditionally, this blessing takes place before the celebration of the Eucharist on the morning of the Feast. However, with its theme of light, it might also be celebrated on the Eve, as prelude to Evensong or an evening Mass.

Celebrant:  Light and peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord.
People:      Thanks be to God.

The following five prayers are derived from the traditional rite for blessing candles. The rite may be abbreviated by omitting two or three of the first four prayers. The fifth prayer should always be included.
Celebrant:  The Lord be with you.
People:       And also with you.
Celebrant:  Let us pray.

Holy Lord, almighty and everlasting God: You created all things out of nothing and, by the labor of your creatures the bees, we have wax for the making of these candles; we thank you that you heard the prayer of your righteous and devout servant Simeon and we now humbly pray you, through the invocation of your holy Name and through the intercession of blessed Mary ever-virgin and all the saints, to bless and sanctify these candles for the use of your faithful people, and for the health and preservation of their bodies and souls on land and sea and in the air. From your holy heaven and the throne of your glory, hear, O Lord, the voices of your people who desire to carry these candles reverently in their hands and to praise you with song; have mercy on all who call upon you, and whom you have redeemed with the precious Blood of your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God: On this day your only-begotten Son was presented in the Temple to be received into the arms of blessed Simeon; we humbly pray you to bless, hallow, and kindle with the light of your heavenly benediction these candles which your servants desire to receive and to carry, lighted in honor of your holy Name. By offering them to you, our Lord and God, may we be inflamed with the fire of your love, and made worthy to be presented in the heavenly temple of your glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one, now and for ever. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light who enlightens every one who comes into this world: Pour your blessing upon these candles, and sanctify them with your grace. As they burn with visible fire and dispel the darkness of night, so may our hearts, kindled by the invisible fire of your Holy Spirit, be free from the blindness of sin. Grant that with purified minds we may be able to discern that which is pleasing to you and profitable to our salvation. And, when the dark perils of this life are past, let us be worthy to attain a place in the unfailing light of your eternal Kingdom, where with your eternal Father and the same Spirit, you live and reign in perfect Trinity, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, who by your servant Moses commanded the purest oil to be prepared for the lamps that burned in the Temple: pour the grace of your blessing upon these candles that, as they shed their outward light abroad, so by your goodness the inward light of the Holy Spirit may never be lacking in our souls; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, you appeared among humankind in the substance of our mortal flesh and, as on this day, you were presented in the Temple; and there the venerable Simeon, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, recognized you, took you into his arms, and blessed you: Grant that, by your mercy, we may be enlightened and taught by the same Holy Spirit and may truly acknowledge you and faithfully love you; who with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

As the candles are distributed and lighted, the Song of Simeon is sung in the following manner:
A light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.
A light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.
Lord, you now have set your servant free,
to go in peace as you have promised.
A light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,
whom you have prepared for all the world to see.
A light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.


Hymns and psalms appropriate to the Feast are sung as the procession moves forward. The following antiphon and psalm is appropriate as the procession approaches the Altar.
We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O Lord, in the midst of your temple.
Psalm 48:1-2, 10-13
As the figures of the Holy Family are placed on the Altar or other place prepared for them, this or another appropriate collect may be said:
O God, you have made this day holy by the presentation of your Son in the Temple, and by the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Mercifully grant that we, who delight in her humble readiness to be the birth-giver of the Only-begotten, may rejoice for ever in our adoption as his sisters and brothers; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

If the Eucharist is to follow, it begins immediately with the 
Gloria in excelsis. If Evensong is to follow, it begins with the Phos hilaron. The people continue to hold lighted candles until the end of the Collect of the Day at the Eucharist, and relight them for the reading of the Gospel. At Evensong, they may extinguish their candles at the conclusion of the Phos hilaron.

I went to last year's Candlemas celebration at St. Mary's, and was transported by the beauty of the Procession in particular.; I'd been to the service before but they hadn't had the procession previously, as far as I can recall.  I can't find the leaflet now, if I kept it, and can't remember exactly what music was used; will keep looking for those and I'll come back and post what I find, if I do.  It was enchanting, and I highly recommend it to all parishes.  It's a beautiful way to spend a cold winter night, with light all around.


FHD has Candlemas recipes for you, too!  When you get home from the service, you can make some
Candlemas Crêpes

In France, Candlemas, La Chandeleur, is celebrated with crêpes. According to tradition, Pope Gelasius I, whose sacramentary is one of the first to list this Feast, is credited with having fed pilgrims with crêpes. People looking for more ancient roots to the custom claim that the round crêpe resembles the sun whose return is celebrated on the pagan festivals often celebrated at the same time of year. As the Church has often incorporated homely folk customs into her observances, we see no conflict here, for Christ is indeed the Sun of Righteousness. In fact, pancakes serve a very useful function at this time of year, especially when Lent begins soon after Candlemas, forcrêpes and other sorts of pancakes are a good way of using up eggs and butter and other rich foods that are given up in Lent. Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) is another day when crêpes are eaten--with various rich fillings. (We are particularly happy to know this tradition because our preference is to celebrate a New Orleans style Mardi Gras, with Cajun food. If we have our crêpes on Candlemas, we can have the best of all worlds!

The French have added to the custom of eating  crêpes on la Chandeleur a bit of ritual related to their making. When it is time to turn the crêpe, the cook is supposed to hold a coin in one hand, make a wish, and flip the crêpe in its pan with the other. Everyone is invited to attempt this operation and those who are successful may expect good luck in the coming year. If your  crêpe pan is sticky, like ours, this may not work so well--but much fun will be had in the attempt, anyway.

Crêpes are a versatile food and may be eaten as a main course or as dessert. Our favorite dessert crêpes for Candlemas are filled with strawberries and whipped cream. The strawberry is known as the "Fruitful Virgin" and is regarded as sacred to Mary.


A Recipe for Dessert Crêpes

The batter can be used immediately, or refrigerated for up to three days for use as needed.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup water
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

Place the ingredients in a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth. Or, mix in a bowl with a wire whisk or mixer, first combining flour and eggs, then adding liquids gradually. Beat until smooth; add other ingredients. Pour a thin layer of batter on a hot iron griddle or crêpe pan, tipping the pan to spread the batter evenly. When the surface of the crêpe is covered with small bubbles, turn the crêpe with a spatula or by flipping it and cook briefly until done.  This will make about 16 crêpes. Crêpes will keep up to a month in the freezer or a week in the refrigerator.

The strawberry filling is simplicity itself. Simply slice the strawberries and sprinkle them with a bit of sugar. When the crêpes are ready, fill them with strawberries, add some whipped cream, and roll. If fresh strawberries are not available, and if you forgot to buy and freeze some when they were in season, strawberry jam makes a very satisfactory substitute.


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