FEBRUARY 2, FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD  Lectionary #524

Blessing of Candles and Procession

This feast celebrates the fortieth day after Christmas. That symbol of forty days is the reason for the feast’s traditional importance and for its use as the time when candles are blessed for use in the churches (and in homes)—this was the Candle Mass (Candlemas). In the middle ages, the feast became associated by farmers with predictions about the weather (if the sun shone on Candlemas and cast a shadow, then winter would continue; if it was cloudy and there was no shadow cast by the sun, then spring would come soon).

The entrance rite today is quite similar to the entrance rite for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, except that on this feast members of the community carry candles instead of palms.

The Roman Missal provides for a full‑blown procession, with the assembly and its ministers first gathering in a separate place before processing into the church. If the solemn entrance is used instead, the assembly gathers in the church as usual. The presid­er then greets the assembly and blesses the candles from the entrance of the church and then processes with the ministers to the altar, while all hold their lighted candles.

A song is sung at the very beginning of the liturgy, while the candles of the people are lit and while the ministers take their places either in a place apart from the church or at the church entrance. The antiphon provided in the Missal expresses our faith that God brings "light to the eyes of those who serve him well." Many of the song suggestions listed below would also be appropriate for use at this time.

The same or another song may be used to accompany the procession of the assembly and/or the ministers into the church. The Roman Missal uses an antiphon that speaks of "a light for revelation to the Gentiles," along with verses drawn from the Canticle of Simeon, which we hear proclaimed in today's Gospel. Several settings of the canticle, along with some other appropriate songs for the procession, are listed below.

After the members of the assembly and the ministers have taken their places, the Mass continues with the singing of the Gloria.

Malachi 3:1-4. The prophet condemns the priestly caste at the Temple for not being faithful to the covenant or to their own responsibilities. When we hear such condemnations, do we thank God that we are not among those being condemned, or do we realize that God's presence always leads to condemnation or to liberation, depending on what we bring to an encounter with that presence?

Psalm of the Day:  Ps (23) 24
This song was sung by pilgrims as they reached the Temple. Standing outside, they called on the gates to lift up. From inside the Temple, voices sang back a question of faith: "Who is the king of glory?" The answer, given in faith, allows access to the Temple.

Open Wide the Gates (Keil)  GC 34/GC2 25/RS 47
Who Is the King of Glory (Armstrong/Somerville)  CBW 214
Who Is the King of Glory (Englert)  PC7 60
Who Is This King of Glory (Guimont)  RS 49
Who Is This King of Glory (Proulx)   PMB 745/PRM B105
Who Is This King of Glory (Proulx/Gelineau)  WOR 1024

Hebrews 2:14-18. Jesus came as an enemy agent, subverting the devil's plan that death would separate us from God. By dying himself, he changed the meaning of human life.

Luke 2:22-40. Using the long form of this reading will allow you to include the reference to Anna, one of the few people in the Bible described as a "prophetess." It will also make note of Luke's tendency to include the witness of women to Jesus at a time when such witness was not allowed in law courts. The meeting with Simeon includes a summary of Jewish faith—that God is always at work to liberate the people—coupled with the Christian expansion of that faith to include "all the peoples."

Songs for the Liturgy

A Light of Revelation (Proc)  WOR 1024
Arise and Shine (1,G)  CBW 341
Arise, O Jerusalem (1,G)  JS 217
Arise, Shine Forth, Your Light Has Come (1,G)  CBW 342
*Canticle of Simeon (G)  JS 234/BB/CBW 728/PMB 183/WC 457/WS
Child of Mercy (G)  RS 506/GC 357/GC2 368
Christ Be Our Light (G)  GC2 512/MI‑BB/WC 937
*Hail to the Lord Who Comes (G)  WOR 692
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed (G) PMB 225/WC 517
Hallelujah Song (1,2,G)  LMGM 90
*In His Temple Now Behold Him (G)  JS 233/BB
In the Darkness Shines the Splendor  CBW 346
Joy to the World (Ps)  WOR 399/GP 125/CBW 328/BB/LMGM 19/PMB 207/RS 524/GC 343/GC2 353/WC 493/JS 194/WS
Kindle a Flame to Lighten the Dark  RS 861
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence  WOR 523/CBW 596/BB/PMB 306/WC 659/RS 658/GC 540/GC2 542/JS 203
*Let the King of Glory Come (Ps)  GP 135/BB/JS 187
*Lift Up Your Heads, Eternal Gates (Ps)  GC2 341
*Lift Up Your Heads, O Gates (Ps)  PMB 354
*Lift Up Your Heads, O Mighty Gates (Ps)  WOR 363/BB/JS 169/PMB 515/WC 951
*Lord, Bid Your Servant Go in Peace (G)  WOR 691/RS 874
*Lord God, Now You Have Set Your Servant Free (G)  CBW 680
Lord, Today (1,G)  RS 536/GC 375/GC2 385
*Now Let Your Servant Go (G)  GC 776/GC2 767
*Nunc Dimittis (G)  WOR 676
Of the Father's Love Begotten (2)  WOR 398/JS 200/CBW 330/BB/PMB 211/WC 487/GC 351/GC2 374/RS 510
Our Father by Whose Name (G)  WOR 570/RS 961
Priestly People/Pueblo de Reyes (2,G)  PMB 383/WC 761/JS 749/WS
*Song of Simeon (G)   BB
The King of Glory (Ps)  WOR 501/WC 738/GP 128/MI‑BB/RS 628/GC 486/GC2 494/JS 598/WS
The Light of Christ  CBW 394/MI‑BB/JS 690
The Lord Will Come (Proc)  WOR 1023