Ask Ambrose: Liturgy for Candlemas

The Presentation in the Temple by Meister des Marienlebens

Q: My parish is interested in observing the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ with a Candlemas Procession and Eucharist. However, I’m not sure where to find liturgical and musical resources for this beyond the Book of Common Prayer. Can you please help?

A: How wonderful that your parish wishes to observe Candlemas! It is too often neglected as a feast in the Episcopal Church, even though it is listed as a major feast in the prayer book. Moreover, it is one of only three feasts that can take precedence over a Sunday if February 2 falls on a Sunday. Thankfully, the Episcopal Church provides a set of lections for Candlemas (or in our liturgical calendar, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple). Additionally, the Book of Occasional Services (2003) offers a form for a Candlemas procession to immediately precede the Holy Eucharist on the Feast of the Presentation. This form can be found on pp. 53-55 and includes instructions about how to proceed with the liturgy after the procession. And there are musical materials available in the Episcopal Church’s authorized resources for the Presentation. Hymns 257-259 in The Hymnal 1982 are appointed for this feast. If you consult the accompaniment edition of The Hymnal 1982, there is a further listing of more hymns for the occasion on pp. 690-91. S340-S343 also contain service music for the Candlemas procession (in the accompaniment edition of The Hymnal 1982).  I think you will find this to be an extraordinarily beautiful liturgy!