Canticle for the Meeting of our Lord

The Presentation in the Temple, Meister des Marienlebens, ca. 1460-75

Canticle for the Meeting of Our Lord

Long years ago I heard the Voice of God—
foreshadowing to me the news of Christ,
that death I would not see ’til I had seen
th’awaited coming of the Son of Man.
“Behold, the Virgin shall conceive,” I read,
Isaiah’s vision did foretell the One
to bring salvation to old Israel,
His flesh and blood to feed the race of man.
And so I prayed, my face upon the ground,
to see the Son of God, the great I AM,
the icon of the mighty Father God,
incarnate for us sons of Israel.
Both night and light, at every hour and time,
with tears I prayed: O Lord, O Lord! How long?
A Light we need, for revelation true,
the glory of Thy people Israel.

Then came the day, within the Temple’s gates,
wherein we saw the coming of the Lord—
a host of angels gathered ’round, I felt,
as two from Galilee did enter in:
The good old man, the righteous Joseph there,
and at his side a young and spotless Maid;
she held within her arms a newborn Child,
Who’d breathed our earthly air but forty days.
They brought with them the sacrifice, two birds,
according to the Law of Moses’ words.

And then, she brought to me the Child—my God
was laid so tenderly within my arms,
His infant breath upon my hands I felt,
His holy breath upon my sinful hands.
I stood, Creator held by creature’s arms,
the Living Word and Son of Most High God
now meets the tired and war-worn Israel,
the faithless bride has now beheld her groom.
“O Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant part
in peace, according to Thy word of truth:
Behold! my eyes have seen salvation’s birth,
which Thou prepared before the face of all,
the Light we need, for revelation true,
the glory of Thy people Israel.”

Then Joseph and the Virgin stood amazed,
to hear such truths as these which God had shown
to me so many long, long years before.
I gave to them the blessing of the Lord,
the Lord Who slept there as an infant Child,
then said to them, “Behold, O Virgin pure,
this Child will be the rise and fall of men
of Israel, a sign which shall be mocked;
And, lo, a sword will pierce thy soul as well,
the thoughts of many men will be revealed.”
Then prophetess, the righteous Anna, came,
and she rejoiced as well to see His day,
thanksgiving sang unto the Lord Most High,
and preached of the Redeemer’s blessed birth.

The Virgin and the good old man returned
to Galilee, performing all the things
required by Moses’ ancient Jewish Law.
The Child, He grew, His spirit strong and good,
with wisdom filled and filled with grace;
He bore mankind’s salvation on His back,
our essence taken to Himself, while yet
retaining without change His place as God.
Our God became a man that we might live
and grow as gods, to fullness of the Christ.

2004

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