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Old Simeon, pious and just, was drawn
To wait for Israel's consolation
As watchmen await the dawn,
While Anna, who proffered her widow's mite,
Had prayed and fasted in adoration
For many a day and night.
When Mary brought Jesus (ten tithes of love!)
To give to God at his presentation
And offer the turtledove,
Good Simeon, Spirit-inspired, was led
To temple; raptured in contemplation,
He cradled the child and said:
“You, Master, may now let your servant go,
My eyes have gazed on the dear salvation
You promised me long ago,
And which you prepared in the peoples' view,
A light to pagans for revelation,
And Israel's glory too.”
Then Anna gave praises to God with them
And spoke to all in anticipation
Of saving Jerusalem¾
Lord, let us with Simeon watch in place
And pray with Anna in expectation
Of seeing at last your face!
Cf. Lk 2, 22–38.
The intended meter is as follows:
3. Cf. Ps 130, 6: My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak.
5. Cf. the parable of the widow's mite in Mt 12, 41–44 and Lk 21, 1–4.
8. Presentation: Jesus is presented to God in accord with Ex 13, 1–16. Cf. especially. v. 2: Consecrate to me every first-born that opens the womb among the Israelites, both of man and beast, for it belongs to me. Note that Jesus does not need to be redeemed as required by Nm 18, 15, since he already belongs fully to the Heavenly Father.
9. The turtledove: a pair of turtledoves, one for a holocaust and one for a sin offering, was the offering of the poor. Cf. Lv 12, 6–8, especially v. 8: If, however, she cannot afford a lamb, she may take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a holocaust and the other for a sin offering. The priest shall make atonement for her, and thus she will again be clean. Mary's purification after childbirth was, of course, merely ritual, not moral.
13–18: These lines are a versification of the Nunc dimittis, the canticle of Simeon, which the Church prays in its liturgy at Compline.
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This poem is © Copyright 2002 by Stephen Wentworth Arndt, Ph.D.