February 2: Candlemas Procession & Compline (Night Prayer)

an_lumen_ad_revelationemOn Sunday, February 2 at 9:30pm, the Compline Choir will pray the office of Compline by candlelight at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. 

Those in attendance will be invited to take a candle; the Compline Choir will share light with you as we process through the church. It’s our hope that all present will pray, listen, contemplate, meditate, think—by the light of that candle. 

Incense will be used that night. This is a first in the history of Compline at St. Mark’s.

Why Compline by candlelight? February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple; others call it Candlemas, other the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, still others the Meeting of Our Lord. Our “Candle Mass” begins with the blessing of candles at the crèche in McCaw Chapel at St. Mark’s Cathedral. We will light our candles and then process through the church singing, while sharing this light with those present, so that they may share it with others. For Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others.”

Curious about the origins of this feast day? February 2—the 40th day after Christmas—we see the infant Jesus again, presented in the temple for the first time Mary and Joseph. In Luke 2:22-40, we meet Simeon and Anna, both of whom have been waiting in the temple for the Anointed One. Both rejoice and praise God upon seeing Jesus!  In this story, we read one of the great canticles—a Biblical text arranged as poetry—which we call the Nunc dimittis or Song of Simeon. This canticle is sung at every Compline service.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Photo Gallery: Sing & Play Along Messiah 2013

An orchestra of 29 players was more than we had ever hoped or dreamed for—and our choir numbered 76 persons! A preliminary tally of contributions to “Merry Christmas Issaquah” and Issaquah Community Services indicates we’re very close to our goal and we expect a few more checks to come in the mail this week. Thank you!

Mark your calendars for the 2014 Sing & Play Along Messiah on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 2:30!

The liturgical Christian… in Advent and at Christmas

What we do in our faith tradition is highly countercultural. When the calendar rolls over to December, our faith tradition calls us to something other than Christmas—Advent. This year, Advent begins on December 1. While the rest of the world is decked in red, green, silver, and gold, we are adorned in the brilliantly deep blue-purple hue known as “Sarum blue,” a name derived from the Latin word for Salisbury, UK—the cradle of all things Anglican.

If you’re looking for fun family activities during Advent, try one of these: (1) make an Advent wreath and observe your own candle lighting at home; (2) read or sing and meditate on the verses to Hymn 56 (O come, O come, Emmanuel) and talk about the images and characters mentioned in the verses; (3) slowly assemble the family manger scene/crèche with each character beginning its journey from somewhere else in the home, and remember, Jesus doesn’t appear until Christmas night!


When invited to the office holiday party, don’t wear a Christmas sweater. Instead, don your best blue or purple attire. You’ll stand out in the crowd. If anyone should ask you if you’re sad or why you’re not in the holiday spirit, just tell them, “It’s Advent. Christmas doesn’t begin until Christmas night and lasts a whole 12 Days!” For when the secular calendar hits December 26, Christmas is over and the rush to put it all away begins in haste. However, for those of us liturgical Christians, Christmas has just begun!