Monday, February 2, 2009

The Feast of the Presentation

More specifically, it's sometimes called the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Or sometimes, the Purification of Mary, or Candlemas, or even (according to Wikipedia) The Meeting of the Lord. The story is told in Luke 2:22-40 and has been frequently depicted in art (such as Rembrandt's painting here) and music.

Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple forty days after his birth, in accordance with ancient custom. The prophet Anna and old Simeon, who had waited for many years, immediately recognized the child as the fulfillment of ancient prophecy. Simeon's joyful declaration, which we know as the Nunc dimittis, has long been a part of Christian worship.

This hymn by John Ellerton was first published in The Children's Hymn Book (1880).

Hail to the Lord who comes,
Comes to the temple gate;
Not with an angel host,
Not in a kingly state;
No shouts proclaim him nigh,
No crowds his coming wait.

But, borne upon the throne
Of Mary’s gentle breast,
Watched by her duteous love,
In her fond arms at rest,
Thus to Jerusalem
He comes, the heav’nly Guest.

There Joseph at her side
In reverent wonder stands,
And, filled with holy joy,
Old Simeon in his hands
Takes up the promised Child,
The Glory of all lands.

O Light of all the earth,
Thy people wait for thee!
Come to thy temples here,
That we, from sin set free,
Before our Maker’s face
May all presented be!

John Ellerton, 1880; alt.
Tune: OLD 120th (
Thomas Est, 1592

The Cyber Hymnal suggests a somewhat unique tune, ST. VERONICA, which I like, but not necessarily for this text.

One Year Ago: O Zion, open wide thy gates

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