The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple
2 February NT
From the Satucket Lectionary
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 Candlemas, and sometimes observed with a candle-lit procession. On the other hand, Groundhog Day (“If the groundhog (or woodchuck, a kind of marmot, which burrows and hibernates) sees his shadow on 2 February, there will be six more weeks of winter.”) is strictly a secular holiday, brought to the United States and Canada by German immigrants.
FIRST READING: Malachi 3:1-4
(“Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the
Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.”)
(“O how amiable are thy dwellings, thou LORD of hosts!”)
EPISTLE: Hebrew 2:14-18
(“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself
likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might
destroy the power of death.”)
THE HOLY GOSPEL: Luke 2:22-40
(“And when the time came for their purification according to the
law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the
by James Kiefer