Candlemas Eve and Candlemas Poetry

16_02_01 Presentation Bellini smToday is Candlemas Eve, and tomorrow is the Feast of the Purification.  We call it Candlemas because, with the references to light in the liturgy, we bless candles.

Here are some poems for Candlemass

First and foremost, making a reference to the removal of Christmas decorations…

Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve
by Robert Herrick

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe ;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall :
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind :
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected, there (maids, trust to me)
So many goblins you shall see.

And the longer version of the same…

Down with the rosemary and bays,
Down with the mistletow;
Instead of holly now upraise
The greener box for show.

The holly hitherto did sway,
Let box now domineer,
Until the dancing Easter day,
Or Easter’s Eve appear.

Then youthful box which now hath grace
Your houses to renew,
Grown old, surrender must his place
Unto the crisped yew.

When yew is out, then birth comes in,
And many flowers beside,
Both of a fresh and fragrant kin,
To honour Whitsuntide.

Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
With cooler oaken boughs,
Come in for comly ornaments,
To readorn the house.

Thus times do shift;
Each thing his turn doth hold;
New things succeed,
As former things grow old.

A Candlemas Dialogue

by Christina Georgina Rossetti (after 1891)

‘Love brought Me down: and cannot love make thee
Carol for joy to Me?
Hear cheerful robin carol from his tree,
Who owes not half to Me
I won for thee.’

‘Yea, Lord, I hear his carol’s wordless voice;
And well may he rejoice
Who hath not heard of death’s discordant noise.
So might I too rejoice
With such a voice.’

‘True, thou hast compassed death: but hast not thou
The tree of life’s own bough?
Am I not Life and Resurrection now?
My Cross, balm-bearing bough
For such as thou.’

‘Ah me, Thy Cross! – but that seems far away;
Thy Cradle-song to-day
I too would raise and worship Thee and pray:
Not empty, Lord, to-day
Send me away.’

‘If thou wilt not go empty, spend thy store;
And I will give thee more,
Yea, make thee ten times richer than before.
Give more and give yet more
Out of thy store.’

‘Because Thou givest me Thyself, I will
Thy blessed word fulfil,
Give with both hands, and hoard by giving still:
Thy pleasure to fulfil,
And work Thy Will.’

Mary’s Purification

Sr. M. Bernetta, O.S.F. Robert, Cyril. Our Lady’s Praise In Poetry.
Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944.

Out went the stupid to wash the snow,
To cleanse the lily of Christ.
Wouldn’t you think that they all should know
The pearl who couldn’t be priced?
Wiser to purify the crystal stone,
To call the tulip unclean,
Than to wash the rose that God’s hand had sown,
Young Mary, the innocent Queen.


Francesca Franciscan Magazine – February 1960

The Mother brings her Candle
To the Temple of Desire,
In wax of flesh and weakness
But soul-wick full of fire!
A light to pierce the darkness,
Redemption for our race,
The gift of expiation
Before our Father’s face!
A flame of contradiction
To tyrant, Gentile, Jew,
But holocaust for ages,
Each dawn will see anew!
O take your Candle, Mary,
Too soon you’ll suffer loss
In Love’s great conflagration
On the altar of the Cross!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Poetry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Tom says:

    Those of us in the Ordinariate begin the liturgical celebration this evening with First Evensong of Candlemas, happily restored to our ordo after 63 years of exile from the Latin Church (suppressed in 1955 and not part of today’s “Extraordinary Form”). Deo gratias!

  2. Candlemas Eve
    (Traditional, arrangement of John Roberts, Tony Barrand, Fred Breunig, and Steve Woodruff, aka “Nowell Sing We Clear,” from their 1980 album on the Golden Hind Music label, “To Welcome in the Spring”)

    Down with the rosemary and bays
    Down with the mistletoe
    Instead of holly, now upraise
    The greener box for show
    The holly hitherto did sway
    Let box now domineer
    Until the dancing Easter day
    Or Easter’s eve appear.

    Then youthful box which now hath grace
    Your houses to renew,
    Grown old, surrender must his place
    Unto the crisped yew
    When yew is out, then birch comes in
    And many flowers beside
    Both of a fresh and fragrant kin
    To honor Whitsuntide.

    Green rushes then, with sweetest bents
    And cooler oaken boughs
    Come in with comely ornaments
    To re-adorn the house
    Thus times do shift, thus times do shift
    Each thing his turn does hold
    New things succeed, new things succeed
    As former things grow old.

  3. If you want to read the lyrics in a separate window while listening to “Candlemas Eve” click here. (It’ll work. Probably.)

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