These recordings of the processional’s chants for the Candlemas service were sung in Bryn Mawr College’s Goodhart Hall by women of the Chamber Singers of Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges and the Bryn Mawr Renaissance Choir, under the direction of Haverford College’s Prof. Thomas Lloyd. John Andrew Bailey, director of the Renaissance Choir, transcribed the processional’s neumes into modern notation and advised on the performance. You can read along with the recordings in the manuscript reader or the linked textual transcription.

Lumen ad Revelationem Gentium

Ave Gratia Plena

Adorna Thalamum

Responsum Accepit Symeon

Candlemas, also called the Purification of the Virgin Mary or the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, is celebrated on February 2 in the Catholic church. According to Leviticus 12:1-8, women remained ritually unclean for forty days following the birth of a son, after which they should travel to the Temple in Jerusalem and make purifying offerings. The feast celebrates the passage from the Gospel of Luke in which, forty days after the birth of Jesus, the Virgin Mary traveled to the Temple, where she presented her son and was cleansed through ritual sacrifice and through the prayers of the priest Simeon (Luke 2: 22-39), and where she was met and heralded by the Prophetess Anna.

A modern version of the Candlemas procession is described and translated in the 1957 edition of the Liber Usualis (pp. 1043-60), which is available online. Its chants closely match the ones included in our processional. (Only “Ave gratia plena…” is not included.) However, the Bryn Mawr College processional contains only part of the Candlemas service.

The members of the Poissy community would have sung the first recorded chant, “Lumen ad revelationem” (f. 1v-3) while the priest distributed candles. They would have sung the remaining chants – “Ave gratia plena…” (f. 3-4) “Adorna thalamum tuum…” (f. 4v-5v) and “Responsum accepit Symeon…” (f. 5v-6v) – as they and the priest processed through the church, commemorating and recreating the moment when Simeon and Anna went forth to meet Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the Temple.



Although the Bryn Mawr College manuscript is unillustrated, processionals often use a scene from Christ’s presentation in the Temple to illustrate the Candlemas procession. This image is from an early 16th century processional from Poissy that is now held in Special Collections, Eric V. Hauser Memorial Library, Reed College.


Recording Session Documentary


Kyra Neiman (Bryn Mawr College, 2017) created a short documentary on the recording session, which reflects on the process of learning and singing the manuscript’s chants as well as on the purposes of the website.

Bryn Mawr aficionados will recognize the substitution of lanterns for candles in the video’s opening clips!