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2 February : The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Comments of pieces by Dom Baron

One of the most ancient feasts in honour of Our Lady. Celebrated at Jerusalem as early as the middle of the 4th century, its celebration had already spread throughout the East by the middle of the 6th century, and a century later it was introduced at Rome. The Mass is preceded by the blessing of the candles and the procession; it comprises three distinct ceremonies.


At Jerusalem, from the 4th century, forty days after the Nativity of Our Lord, the feast of His presentation and the Holy Family's meeting with the old man Simeon was celebrated. The line addressed by the holy old man as he greeted the Infant-God was to give to this feast its special character: Lumen ad revelationem gentium. It became the feast of light.

At Rome, well before the feast existed in the East, on the night of the 1st to the 2nd, there was a penitential procession, which had taken the place of a pagan procession. Candles were carried, probably replacing the pagan torches. When in the 7th century the Feast of the Presentation was introduced, it coincided with this procession. The penitential procession remained with its special character of penitence; they sang the Exsurge, Domine and processed towards St. Mary Major while singing the litanies as on April 25th and the Rogation days. But on approaching the basilica, they would replace the invocations of the litanies by special antiphons celebrating Our Lady's walk to the temple: Adorna thalamum tuum among others. From this moment, the penitential procession ceased and the celebration of the mystery of the Presentation began. The rite of the blessing of candles was added in the 11th century. At the same time, the litanies disappeared, such that the procession lost nearly all of its penitential character. Only the Exurge, Domine and the purple vestments remained.

Antiphon Adorna

"Adorn thy bridal-chamber, O Sion, and welcome Christ the King: with loving embrace greet Mary, the very gate of heaven; for she bringeth to thee the glorious King of new light: ever virgin she remaineth, yet in her arms doth bear the Son begotten before the day-star: that Child whom Simeon did take into his arms and proclaim to the nations as Lord of life and Savior of the world."

This antiphon is of Greek origin. The beginning is an invitation addressed to the Church - Sion - to adorn her chamber with the trappings of joy to receive the King of glory. Then follows the description of Our Lady, who comes forth, carrying her Son and stopping before the holy old man who takes the infant and presents Him to the world as its Savior.

Antiphon Obtulerunt

"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. 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" (Luke 2:22-24).

The melody is patterned on the response Emendemus of Ash Wednesday's distribution of ashes, but the more somber passages have in the main been left aside so that the penitential character is less apparent. The melody and the spirit of the piece are equally related to Palm Sunday's Ingrediente.

Introit and Gradual

"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. 47:10-11).

Few texts could be better chosen. A song of pilgrimage, it was in fact composed to accompany the first arrival at His Temple of the Angel of the Temple whom Malachi foretold and whom he will present in the Epistle of the Mass. It is the witnesses of the scene who sing: Our Lady, St. Joseph, the old man Simeon, the prophetess Anna...and us with them, who come to receive, by our participation in the liturgical mystery, the graces reserved for us from that time by the Lord's mercy.


"An old man was carrying a Child, but the Child was the old man's Lord."

This sentence evokes the invisible aspect of the mystery: the Infant's mysterious force, which pushes His old servant to take Him, and which will make him sing his admirable Nunc dimittis and announce the Infant to the world as the light of the nations and the Saviour of the world. The melody reprises that of the Feast of St. Andrew as well as that of the Friday and Saturday of the Octave of Pentecost.


"Grace is poured abroad in thy lips; therefore hath God blessed thee for ever, and for ages of ages."

This psalm is a nuptial canticle in which the bride sings the bridegroom. Messianic in the strict sense, it can only be understood of the Church and of Christ.

This verse, which comes at the beginning of the bride's song, is here addressed to the Divine Infant smiling in its mother's arms or in Simeon's hands: it is they who sing, and with them, the Church who joins in. Ravished, she is in ecstasy over the beauty of the Infant God who is presented to her.


"Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, until he had seen the Christ of the Lord."

The melody is sung lightly, developing certain passages like the cadence on Simeon till the end of the phrase. Impetus is given on non visurum, building to mortem, linked to nisi, and singing the end in a restrained manner.

Septuagesima Time

With Septuagesima, we definitely abandon Christmas Time to enter the Easter cycle. External rites peculiar to this new liturgical season are: suppression of the Glória at mass, deletion of joyful Alleluias everywhere in the celebration, even at Deus in adjutorium meum intende, to which it virtually adheres, purple ornaments. All this is singularly evocative and sufficient to characterize the atmosphere in which the liturgy will now take place: it is a spirit of penance that will - increasingly so as we approach the holy celebration of the mystery of the Lord's passion - be the hallmark of the Church prayer.

Le spectacle Jeanne d'Arc en DVD !

ALCG-38-DVD-3DEn collaboration avec Le Message de Thérèse, notre association Sacra Musica publie le DVD du spectacle Jeanne d’Arc, cœur de feu, âme de guerrier, d’après Thérèse de Lisieux.

Ce spectacle - dont vous pouvez trouver la bande-annonce ici – a été donné à Lisieux à l’Ascension 2014 et allie au magnifique texte de sainte Thérèse un jeu de lumière dans la cathédrale de Lisieux ainsi que de magnifiques musiques. 

Quelques rares personnes l’ont vu en avant-première et sont restées sans voix: les images sont de toute beauté, les gros plans magnifiques, les acteurs touchants, la musique émouvante. 

Deux heures de beauté, d’émotion et de spiritualité.

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