On 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.