James Primosch is professor of composition at Penn. Composed in 1994 and dedicated to John Harbison, this is the first of eight such pieces he has composed for the Emmanuel Music Choir. The motet for Candlemas (Feb. 2nd) is set to a poem of Denise Levertov who was, for many years, a parishioner at Emmanuel Church. Primosch's graceful and vocally grateful score is a perfect match for Denise's lovely poem.
The Purification of Mary is also known as Candlemas, because of procession with candles on that day, or as "Presentation of our Lord." The Gospel for this day, Luke 2:22-32, tells of the presentation of Jesus in the temple. Mary goes to the temple in fulfillment of the Levitical requirement after childbirth. According to Lev. 12:2-6, a mother remained unclean for 40 days after the birth of a son, after which she had to come to the temple and be ritually readmitted to the faithful. The date of Feb. 2 was determined by the interval of 40 days after Dec. 25.
©Craig Smith with additions by Ryan Turner