The Feast of Candlemas, which derives its origin from the local observance of Jerusalem, marks the end of the Feasts
included in the Christmas cycle of the liturgy. It is perhaps the most ancient festival of Our Lady. It commemorates, however, not
only the obedience of the Blessed Virgin to the Mosaic Law in going to Jersualem forty days after the birth of her Child and making the
accustomed offerings, but also the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, and the meeting of the Infant Jesus with the old man Simeon
-- the Occursus Domini, as the Feast was originally termed. This is the principal theme of the liturgy on this day: Jesus is
taken into the Temple "to present Him to the Lord." So the Lord comes to His own Temple, and is met by the aged Simeon with joy and
The procession on this day is one of the most picturesque features of the Western liturgy. The blessing and distribution of candles, to be carried lighted in procession, preceded the Mass today -- a symbolic presentation of the truth proclaimed in the Canticle of Simeon: Our Lord is the "Light for the revelation of the Gentiles." The anthems sung during this procession, eastern in origin, well express the joy and gladness of this happy festival, and the honor and praise we give to our Blessed Lady and her Divine Son by this devout observance.
I. The Blessing
The priest, vested in a purple cope, blesses the candles, which are placed near the altar.
|V. Dominus vobiscum.||V. The Lord be with you.|
|R. Et cum spiritu tuo.||R. And with thy spirit.|
| Let us pray. -- O Holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, who hast created all
things out of nothing, and by Thy command hast caused this liquid to become perfect wax by the labor of bees: and who, on this day didst
fulfill the petition of the righteous man Simeon: we humbly entreat Thee, that by the invocation of Thy most holy Name and through the
intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin whose feast is today devoutly observed, and by the prayers of all Thy Saints, Thou wouldst
vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these candles for the service of men and for the health of their bodies and souls, whether
on land or on sea: and that Thou wouldst hear from Thy holy heaven, and from the throne of Thy Majesty the voices of this Thy people,
who desire to carry them in their hands with honor, and to praise Thee with hymns; and wouldst be propitious to all that call upon Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
| Let us pray. -- O almighty and everlasting God, who on this day didst present Thine
only-begotten Son in Thy holy temple to be received in the arms of holy Simeon: we humbly entreat Thy clemency, that Thou wouldst
vouchsafe to bless and sanctify and to kindle with the light of Thy heavenly benediction these candles, which we, Thy
servants, desire to receive and to bear lighted in the honor of Thy Name: that, by offering them to Thee our Lord God, being worthily
inflamed with the holy fire of Thy most sweet charity, we may deserve to be presented in the holy temple of Thy glory. Through the same
our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without
| Let us pray. -- O Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light who enlightenest every man that
cometh into this world: pour forth Thy blessing upon these candles, and sanctify them with the light of Thy grace, and
mercifully grant, that as these lights enkindled with visible fire dispel the darkness of night, so our hearts illumined by invisible
fire, that is, by the splendor of the Holy Spirit, may be free from the blindness of all vice, that the eye of our mind being cleansed,
we may be able to discern what is pleasing to Thee and profitable to our salvation; so that after the perilous darkness of this life we
may deserve to attain to neverfailing light: through Thee, O Christ Jesus, Savior of the world, who in the perfect Trinity, livest and
reignest, God, world without end.
| Let us pray. -- O almighty and everlasting God, who by Thy servant Moses didst command
the purest oil to be prepared for lamps to burn continuously before Thee: vouchsafe to pour forth the grace of Thy blessing upon
these candles: that they may so afford us light outwardly that by Thy gift, the gift of Thy Spirit may never be wanting inwardly to our
minds. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, God, world
| Let us pray. -- O Lord Jesus Christ, who appearing on this day among men in the substance
of our flesh, wast presented by Thy parents in the temple: whom the venerable and aged Simeon, illuminated by the light of Thy Spirit,
recognized, received into his arms, and blessed: mercifully grant that, enlightened and taught by the grace of the same Holy Ghost, we
may truly acknowledge Thee and faithfully love Thee; Who with God the Father in the unity of the same Holy Ghost livest and reignest,
God, world without end.
The celebrant sprinkles the candles three times with holy water, saying the anthem Asperges me Domine . . ., and also incensing them thrice.
II. The Distribution
During the distribution the choir sings the Canticle of Simeon. The antiphon is repeated after each verse.
ANTHEM ¤ Luke 2. 32
|Lumen ad revelationem gentium: et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.||A light for the revelation of the Gentiles: and for the glory of Thy people Israel.|
After which is sung the following:
THE CANTICLE OF SIMEON ¤ Luke 2. 29-32
|Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine: secundum verbum tuum in pace.||Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace.|
|Lumen . . .||A light . . .|
|Quia viderunt oculi mei: salutare tuum.||Because mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.|
|Lumen . . .||A light . . .|
|Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum.||Which Thou hast prepared, before the face of all peoples.|
|Lumen . . .||A light . . .|
|Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.||Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.|
|Lumen . . .||A light . . .|
|Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.||As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.|
|Lumen . . .||A light . . .|
After which is sung the following:
ANTHEM ¤ Ps. 43. 26
|Exsurge, Domine, adjuva nos: et libera nos propter nomen tuum. -- Deus, auribus nostris audivimus: patres nostri annuntiaverunt nobis. V.: Gloria Patri . . . -- Exsurge, Domine . . .||Arise, O Lord, help us and deliver us for Thy Name's sake. -- (Ps. 43. 2). We have heard, O God, with our ears: our fathers have declared to us. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . Arise, O Lord . . .|
After Septuagesima, and not on a Sunday, the deacon says:
|V.: Flectamus genua.||V.: Let us kneel.|
|R.: Levate.||R.: Arise.|
| Let us pray. -- We beseech Thee, O Lord, hearken unto Thy people, and grant that by the
light of Thy grace, we may inwardly attain to those things which Thou grantest us outwardly to venerate by this yearly observance.
Through Christ our Lord.
III. The Procession
The deacon turns to the people and says:
|V.: Procedamus in pace.||V.: Let us go forth in peace.|
|R.: In Nomine Christi. Amen.||R.: In the Name of Christ. Amen.|
The procession takes place in the usual order, all bearing the lighted candles: the following anthems are sung the while:
|Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion, et suscipe Regem Christum amplectere Mariam, quae est coelestis porta: ipsa enim portat Regem gloriae novi luminis: subsistit Virgo, ad ducens manibus Filium ante luciferum genitum: quem accipiens Simeon in ulnas suas, praedicavit populis, Dominum eum esse vitae et mortis, et Salvatorem mundi.||Adorn thy bridal-chamber, O Sion, and welcome Christ the King: with loving embrace greet Mary who is the very gate of heaven; for she bringeth to thee the glorious King of the new light: remaining ever a Virgin yet she bearest in her arms the Son begotten before the day-star: even the Child, whom Simeon taking into his arms, declared to the peoples to be the Lord of life and death, and the Savior of the world.|
ANTHEM ¤ Luke 2. 26, 27, 28, 29
|Responsum accepit Simeon a Spiritu Sancto, non visurum se mortem, nisi videre Christum Domini: et cum inducerent Puerum in templum, accepit eum in ulnas suas, et benedixit Deum, et dixit: Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, in pace. V.: Cum inducerent puerum Jesum parentes ejus, ut facerent secundum consuetudinem legis pro eo, ipse accepit eum in ulnas suas.||Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord; and when they brought the Child into the temple, he took Him into His arms, and blessed God, and said: Now dost Thou dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, in peace. V.: When His parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him into His arms.|
On entering the church, the choir sings:
|V.: Obtulerunt pro eo Domino par turturum, aut duos pullos columbarum: * Sicut scriptum est in lege Domini.||V.: They offered for Him to the Lord a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons: * As it is written in the Law of the Lord.|
|V.: Postquam impleti sunt dies purgationis Mariae, secundum legem Moysi, tulerunt Jesum in Jerusalem, ut sisterent eum Domino. * Sicut scriptum est in lege Domini.||V.: After the days of the purification of Mary, according to the law of Moses, were fulfilled, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord. * As it is written in the Law of the Lord.|
|V.: Gloria Patri . . . * Sicut scriptum est in lege Domini.||V.: Glory be to the Father . . . * As it is written in the Law of the Lord.|
INTROIT ¤ Ps. 47. 10, 11
|Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio templi tui: secundum nomen tuum, Deus, ita et laus tua in fines terrae: justitia plena est dextera tua. -- Magnus Dominus, et laudabilis nimis: in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto ejus. V.: Gloria Patri . . . -- Suscepimus . . .||We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple; according to Thy Name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth; Thy right hand is full of justice. -- (Ps. 47. 2). Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of God, in His holy mountain. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . -- We have received Thy mercy . . .|
|COLLECT.--Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty, that as Thine only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so Thou wouldst cause us too to be presented unto Thee with purified hearts. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .|
EPISTLE ¤ Malachias 3. 1-4
Lesson from the Prophet Malachias.
[The prophet foretells the coming of Christ the Lord to His Temple, Himself the Sacrifice which "shall please the Lord."]
|Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I send My Angel, and he shall prepare the way before My face; and presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the Angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to His temple. Behold He cometh, saith the Lord of hosts; and who shall be able to think of the day of His coming? and who shall stand to see Him? for He is like the fuller's herb; and He shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years; saith the Lord almighty.|
GRADUAL ¤ Ps. 47. 10, 11, 9
| Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio templi tui: secundum nomen tuum, Deus, ita et laus
tua in fines terrae. V.: Sicut audivimus, ita et vidimus, in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto ejus.
Alleluia, alleluia. V.: Senex puerum portabat: Puer autem senem regebat. Alleluia.
| We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple; according to Thy Name, O God, so
also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth. V.: As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of our God, and in His holy
Alleluia, alleluia. V. (St. Augustine). The old man carried the Child, but the Child governed the old man. Alleluia.
After Septuagesima the Alleluia and the Verse Senex Puerum . . . are omitted and the following is said instead.
TRACT ¤ Luke 2. 29, 30-32
|Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace. V.: Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum. V.: Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum. V.: Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.||Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace. V.: Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation. V.: Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples. V.: A light for the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.|
The candles should be held lighted during the Gospel and from the beginning of the Canon to the Communion.
GOSPEL ¤ Luke 3. 22-32
Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
[The Presentation of Christ in the temple; Simeon's prophetic songs of joy.]
|At that time, after the days of Mary's purification according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord; as it is written in the law of the Lord: "Every male opening the womb, shall be called holy to the Lord"; and to offer sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons. And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was in him: and he received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when His parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he also took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.|
OFFERTORY ¤ Ps. 44. 3
|Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis: propterea benedixit te Deus in aeternum, et in saeculum saeculi.||Grace is poured abroad in thy lips; therefore hath God blessed thee forever, and for ages of ages.|
|SECRET.--O Lord, graciously hear our prayers; and that the gifts we offer in the sight of Thy Majesty may be found worthy, grant us the help of Thy mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .|
Preface of the Nativity
|Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus: Quia per incarnati Verbi mysterium nova mentis nostrae oculis lux tuae claritatis infulsit: ut, dum visibiliter Deum cognoscimus, per hunc in invisibilum amorem rapiamur. Et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus, cumque omni militari coelestis exercitus, hymnum gloriae tuae canimus sine fine dicentes:||It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, for through the Mystery of the Word made flesh, the new light of Thy glory hath shone upon the eyes of our mind, so that while we acknowledge God in visible form, we may through Him be drawn to the love of things invisible. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Throne and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying:|
COMMUNION ¤ Luke 2. 26
|Responsum accepit Simeon a Spiritu Sancto, non visurum se mortem, nisi videret Christum Domini.||Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, until he had seen the Christ of the Lord.|
|POSTCOMMUNION.--We beseech Thee, O Lord our God, that the most holy Mysteries, which Thou hast given us as a safeguard for our regenerated nature, may, through the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, be to us a healing remedy, both for the present and for the future. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity . . .|