Tonight I went to Great Vespers with Liti for the feast day known as the Meeting of the Lord. On such feast days, I particularly enjoy hearing the special verses that are sung — most of them ancient compositions from the patristic age. For example, here are a few of the verses that were sung at the Liti in reflection of when Christ, as a babe, was met by Simeon and Anna at the Temple, when He was 40 days old, demonstrating the rich theology that is interweaved into such services:
The Ancient of Days, who in times past gave Moses the Law on Sinai, appears this day as a babe. As Maker of the Law He fulfills the Law, and according to the Law He is brought into the temple and given over to the Elder, Simeon the righteous receives Him, and beholding the fulfillment of the divine ordinance now brought to pass, rejoicing he cries aloud: “My eyes have seen the mystery hidden from the ages, made manifest in these latter days, the Light that disperses the dark folly of the Gentiles without faith and the Glory of the newly-chosen Israel. Therefore let your servant depart from the bonds of this flesh to the life filled with wonder that knows neither age nor end, O You who grants the world great mercy.”
Today He who once gave the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai submits Himself to the ordinances of the Law, in His compassion becoming for our sakes as we are. Now the God of purity as a holy child has opened a pure womb, and as God He is brought as an offering to Himself, setting us free from the curse of the Law and granting light to our souls.
Him whom the ministers at the liturgy on high entreat with trembling, Simeon has now received below in his earthly arms, and he proclaims the union of the Godhead with mankind. Seeing the heavenly God as mortal man, he makes ready to withdraw from earthly things, and raises his cry in joy, “Glory to You, O Lord, who has revealed to those in darkness the Light that knows no evening.”
Today Simeon takes in his arms the Lord of Glory whom Moses saw of old in the darkness, when on Mount Sinai he received the tablets of the Law. This is He who speaks through the prophets; He is the Creator of the Law. This is He whom David announced; He is fearful to all, yet has great and abundant mercy.
Today Simeon the Elder enters the temple rejoicing in spirit, to receive in his arms Him who gave the Law to Moses and who Himself fulfills the Law. For Moses as counted worthy to see God through darkness and sounds not clear; and with his face covered he rebuked the unbelieving hearts of the Hebrews. But Simeon carried the pre-eternal Word of the Father in bodily form, and he revealed the Light of the Gentiles, the Cross and the Resurrection; and Anna was proved to be a prophetess, preaching the Savior and Deliverer of Israel.