A Song of Anna

This post first appeared at the Episcopal Cafe

In the story of Jesus’ Presentation at the Temple, and the purification of his blessed mother, Luke tells of two words that Simeon utters. The first is a hymn of praise to God that Simeon should have seen the coming of his Christ. The second addresses the holy family, blessing them, but adding some words of caution for his mother, that this epiphany would not be without trouble, and that its sword would pierce her own heart.

Then we are introduced to Anna. She has spent several decades, the majority of her life, in the Temple as a widow devoted to worship, fasting, and prayer. When she sees the family and their child, she too breaks into praises, and she, too, has something to say about what this means, the coming of the Messiah, the birth of the Christ, and his appearance in the Temple. She tells all who will listen – but her words, unlike Simeon’s, are not recorded.

Simeon’s song, the Nunc Dimittis, crops up regularly in our liturgies, especially during Evening Prayer. I wonder what it would sound like, what it would feel like, if we had Anna’s song, too, to sing as our prayers rise like incense at the end of the day.

Not fruit of my womb,
but fruit of the Tree
of Life, this one
who will give his flesh
for the world, and I,
who have fasted so long,
now feast my eyes,
my heart, my soul,
upon the child of God,
the promise of Israel;
Not fruit of my womb,
yet I give thanks
that I may bear this
joy into the world.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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