This is the schedule for the Group's Spring recitals in 2015
The Feast of Candlemas is on 2nd February, 40 days after Christmas Day, celebrating the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, brought by Mary and Joseph to complete her ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn son, in obedience to the Law of Moses. They took the option provided for poor people and sacrificed a pair of turtledoves. There they met the aged Simeon to whom it had been promised that "he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ", and he prayed -
Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace; according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people: to be a light to lighten the gentiles and to be the glory of Thy people Israel.
The feast has been celebrated since the fourth century and the event is much reflected in art - it is shown in the eleventh of the 12 small panels illustrating the Life of Mary in this altarpiece of about 1490:
And in music: come and hear some by the Spanish composer Tomas Luis Victoria and the Roman, Lucca Marenzio, sung by the Renaissance Music Group at Candlemas in St Andrews Church, West Kirby, at 10.30 on Sunday 1st February.
In earlier times, it was common to perform public acts of penance - walking in a public place barefoot, wearing sackcloth, by approaching some holy place on their knees, as did King Henry II when implicated in the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket. In 1535 the Italian poet Luigi Tonsillo published a mildly erotic poem but in 1559 it was put onto the newly established Index Librorum Prohibitorum, together with all his subsequent works. As his act of penance he composed a long poem and as a subject, seized upon Peter, the archetypal penitential figure, in Le Lagrime di San Pietro - The Tears of Saint Peter. The poem proved very popular and he sent it to Pope Paul IV, regretting his juvenile indiscretion .
Now the much-famed composer Orlandus Lassus (contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I) had with fluency and imagination set to music a great many texts ranging from the religious and elevated to the secular and anything but. Toward the end of his life he may have come to regret some of this: possibly as an act of penance he set to music about half of Tansillo’s poem - the longest set of Madrigali Spirituali ever written. He too dedicated it to the then pope – Clemens VIII. Seven of them will be performed in the Lent recitals to be given by the Renaissance Music Group, interleaved by the much better known Seaven Lachrimae (Seven Tears) of John Dowland played by the Chester Viols.