The Child Circumcised and Presented in the Temple

The Child Circumcised and Presented in the Temple

Circumcision. Presentation. Nunc Dimittis. Anna.

(The Gospel History, Section 11)

And when eight days were fulfilled for circumcising him, his name was called Jesus, which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord), and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons. And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, that they might do concerning him after the custom of the law, then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

Now lettest thou thy servant depart, O Lord,
According to thy word, in peace;
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples;
A light for revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of thy people Israel.

And his father and his mother were marvelling at the things which were spoken concerning him; and Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the falling and rising up of many in Israel; and for a sign which is spoken against; yea and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and she had been a widow even for fourscore and four years), which departed not from the temple, worshipping with fastings and supplications night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks unto God, and spake of him to all them that were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. And when they had accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

And the child grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

The Child Circumcised and Presented in the Temple

(The Saviour of the World, Vol I Book I Poem XIV)

The Presentation by Van der Weyden

Now when eight days were passed, the Holy Child,
As bids the Law, was circumcised: no friends
Were hospitably called to this poor feast;
But they named Him Jesus, as the angel bade
Ere yet He was conceived in the womb.
Thus height of grace and depth of ignominy
Followed the Holy Child through every stage
Of His yet infant life.

Acquaint with mortal pain,

Obedient, borne,

He suffered in the flesh,

Of glory shorn.

No lust of flesh that frame should mar
Wherein the Son of Man went forth to war.

The days prescribed for purifying past,
Joseph and Mary brought Him to Jerusalem
To give Him to the Lord: for it is writ
That every first-born man-child shall be His:
Would hints of glory gathering round the Child
Take shape of greatness? Mayhap, God might show
If the Babe they carried were indeed His Son.

Poor folk, these brought the poor man’s scanty gift
To symbolise their presentation, doves.
They trod, a peasant pair, the temple courts
Bearing a child; without or circumstance
Or state to show His birth—such group of three
As every day appeared in precincts holy,
None taking heed. This family was observed:
There dwelt in Jerusalem one Simeon,
Who knew: he, righteous and devout, was told
Of the Spirit, he Christ should see in the flesh;
His prayers by day and night, fervent desires
For Israel’s Consolation, should be graced.
So sure was he of this, he watched alway:
No common, usual group might, unaware,
Pass this man, lest so he should miss the Child:
Perceiving he was ready, the Spirit led
Him straight to the temple; and when the parents came,
The simple peasant folk, behold, he knew—
Such is the gift God granteth to His own,
Through signs of everyday they Him discern—
While haughty scribes and priests, collected there,
Gave scarce a glance to these poor country folk;
A hundred such, sure, came there every day!
Now, reverent and meek, approached the priest
With arms outstretched to hold the Holy Child:
Receiving Him, he blessed his God, and said:—

“Now let thy servant, Lord, depart in peace,

Mine eyes have seen the King!

Thy word to me fulfilled, bid my days cease,

Which no more joy can bring:

“For Thy salvation do mine eyes behold!

The very Christ of God,

Before the face of all the world foretold—

The King, whose feet are shod

“With gospel of Thy peace for all mankind!

Not for the Jew alone;

The Gentile also shall salvation find,

For He shall make both one.

“To Gentiles, surely, shall the Christ be shown;

His light shall shine on them:

But this glory is for Israel alone—

The Birth in Bethlehem!”

Out of Zion hath our God appeared

In perfect beauty.

He shall rehearse it when He writeth up the people

That He was born there.

Thus spake the seer, in sacred vision rapt;
Joseph and Mary stood beside, awe-bound,
Marvelling at the great things spoken of Him,
The Child they had brought to the temple: ever more
Glory, greatness, grace, to Him ascribed,
With each new word of God falls on their ear.

And Simeon, looking at the amazèd pair,
Blessed them; and to Mary, His mother, said, “Behold,
This Child shall be for the fall of many great,
The raising up of lowly souls in Israel;
A sign shall He be many shall speak against,
Perceiving the will of God with rebel hearts.

“Yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul!
For He shall suffer, and the smart be thine:
And all the thoughts of men shall be revealed
By the sure witness of the word He speaks.”
Mary heard all, and pondered in her heart.

Another graced to hear the News was Anna,
Daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asser,
A widow of a hundred years or more
Who dwelt in cell within the holy precincts,
And day and night was in the temple courts
Fasting and praying. She, like Simeon,
Waited the Consolation of Israel.
Stirred anew to hope by inner impulse,
And coming at that very hour to Simeon,
She also saw the Christ and blessed her God.
Many who sought the temple knew full well
The aged prophetess, and to them all
She told how God had visited His people.

The happy, gracious Child grew and waxed strong,
Fillèd with wisdom—as a child may be—
Lovely in all His infant ways, nor marred
By rude offence of wilful humankind:
And the grace of God was upon Him.

St. Luke ii. 21-29.

Nunc Dimittis

St. Luke ii. 29-40.

“Out of Zion hath God appeared in perfect beauty.”—Ps. l. 2. (Prayer Book, 1.).

“He shall rehearse it, when He writeth up the people, that He was born there.”— Ps. lxxxvii. 6.