Candlemas is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, and occurs 40 days after Christmas, on the 2nd February. It is also known as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, in reference to the episode in Luke's gospel (2:22-40).I went last night by myself with the promise that I'd take pictures for Jacob to see. He loves Ripon Cathedral, mostly because it has a "basement" which is actually the remains of the original church built by St. Wilfrid in the 7th century. Our candlelit procession did not go through there, though we did see the rest of the cathedral as we processed, including some elaborate candle displays. No photography was allowed during the service, which was fine with me.
This ancient festival has been celebrated at Ripon for centuries. A visitor to the Cathedral in 1790 declared that the whole building was "one continued blaze of light all afternoon".
This year, the Cathedral will once again shine with the light of thousands of candles, symbolising Jesus as the light of the world.
|Chi Ro in candles|
|Main altar candle display|
The procession was part of the Eucharist service. The Church of England Eucharist follows closely the Catholic liturgy: processional hymn, greeting prayers, Gloria, liturgy of the Word, homily, petitions, offertory, liturgy of the Eucharist (which was written up in the booklet as "liturgy of the Sacrament"), Lord's Prayer, Communion, and dismissal. The procession happened just before the Gospel reading. They must have spotted me as Catholic and, as a gag, gave me a fast-melting candle. My candle was reduced to a mere stub by the time the procession and the Gospel were done. Everyone else had a good four or five inches of candle left (and unwaxed hands).
|Remains of the candle-some of the wax made it onto my hand!|
It looked like they used an impromptu altar rail for communion. I didn't go to receive, being Catholic and all, so I'm not sure. I did see the rails as we processed.
Before the dismissal, the priest noted the presence of the mayor of Ripon, who was dressed in full mayoral regalia, including his chain of office. I was unable to photograph him, but if you've seen the famous painting of St. Thomas More, you have an idea of how the chain of office looks. If you haven't seen it, you are about to:
The mayor in turn invited the town crier to perform his public duty in the cathedral. Ripon's town crier is famous because he stands in front of the courthouse and blows his horn every evening at 9 p.m. to show he is on duty. The tradition is 900 years old! He also escaped from my camera's lens, though someday I will come when the weather is more clement and see him at the courthouse.
After the service was over, I was able to take some pictures of the church.
|Last night for the Nativity set|
|Candles on a bench|
|Another bench of candles|
|Cathedral at night|
|Side of the cathedral at night|
We are now switching our dinnertime hymn from "We Three Kings" to an ordinary time hymn. Jacob has requested "Amazing Grace," so that will be our song until Lent starts in about three weeks. Farewell, Christmas season!