Candlemas Images
archive 2017 Feb 2
for promotional images, click here.

Many photos were taken with available lighting, 
some with flash working only short-range. 
We don't have images of the entire evening, 
but these and the 8-page printed program (PDF) will give some idea of the occasion.
A written report appears below the pictures. 

Most images enlarge with downloading.
None of the images are credited -- we're often not sure of sources --
so thank you for sharing!

Announcement on the Cathedral website. The Kansas City Star's story is here.

Click on the image to download the 8-page printed program.

As each person received a copy of the 8-page color program, 
(click here for a PDF of the program), a candle, and a candy from Andres.

The Cathedral Tower was bathed in blue, appropriate because 
for Christians Candlemas is a Marian feast, The Presentation.

Before the performance began, examples of candles to be used by the Cathedral
in the coming year had been placed on a table near the front of the nave.

In the chancel only one candle was lit. It was in the middle of the Holy Table behind a jar of Waters of the World (explained on page 8 of the printed program), later used for asperges. Also on the table were a Hindu 5-wick 2-foot brass oil lamp, an American Indian drum, and a Qur'an open to Surah 24 An-Nur, Light. These items represented the honor given light in all world religions.

The Saint John's Bible (described on page 8 of the program and on Wikipedia) was open to Luke 2, 
where the story of Simeon calling the infant Jesus "a Light" is told. 

In dim lighting, folks were invited to enter sacred space and time. 
Little candles were burning in the windows and the chandelier lights were low.
The event began with a welcome from the Cathedral Dean,
the Very Reverend Peter DeVeau.

Swinging a thurible with incense from Mt Hiei in Japan 
(Enryaku-ji Buddhist Temple, where Barnet studied years ago), 
acolyte Curtis Hamilton led the procession of performers from the back of the nave. Following him were instrumentalist Beau Bledsoe, guest Buddhist the Most Venerable Sunyananda Dharma representing his and other faiths, actor Matt Schwader, poet Vern Barnet, and Dr Rebecca Johnson with the Sacred Arts Chorale.

From the single candle on the Holy Table, Dharma and Barnet took the flame to the folks in the nave for their candles to be lit as the acolyte lit the many candles in the chancel, including those on the two menorahs, recognizing the Jewish setting of the Presentation in the Temple in Jerusalem. Then a multi-faith blessing of candles, led by Mary DeVeau, was offered in unison.

 To mark the extinguishing of the candles, the acolyte sprinkled Waters of the World on those gathered, as a reminder that our little lights can be extinguished, but the Light Invisible pervades the universe and is a persistent blessing.

Dr Johnson offered suggestions for how to listen to music 400 years old.

Beau Blesdoe explained why he likes baroque era music for various string instruments and later performed.

Shakespearean actor Matt Schwader compared the Shakespearean sonnet
to the body, complimented Vern on his multi-layered poems in that form
and read nine of them throughout the evening 
after each was introduced by Vern 
in words similar to those printed on page 7 of the program.

Under the direction of Dr Johnson, the 13 voices of the Sacred Arts Chorale performed the complete William Byrd Mass for Four Voices, described on page 3 of the program by annotator and Kansas City Star writer Patrick Neas.

The performers prepared for the Recessional, with Beau repeating the beautiful piece by Gaspar Sanz which began the evening.

The Cathedral Bookstore re-opened afterwards and folks purchased copies of 
Thanks for Noticing: The Interpretation of Desire.

Both Candlemas and its secular version, Ground Hog Day, 
have developed with weather traditions.

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

We found this intriguing image:



“Candlemas: In Light, Music, and Poetry” invited those at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral the evening of February 2, 2017, to enter sacred space and time. The dimly lit edifice showcased sacred items from many faiths. Around a single lit candle illumining a jar of Interfaith Waters of the World were a Hindu oil lamp, an American Indian drum, and a Qur’an opened to Surah 24 An-Nur, “Light.” Such items offered homage to the importance of light in all the world religions.

Acolyte Curtis Hamilton led the procession of performers from the back of the nave, swinging a thurible of incense from the Enryaku-ji Buddhist Temple in Mt. Hiei, Japan, where Vern Barnet studied as a young man. He was followed by Kansas City’s world-renowned instrumentalist Beau Bledsoe playing the oud, the Most Venerable Sunyananda Dharma representing Buddhism and other faiths, actor Matt Schwader, Barnet, Dr. Rebecca Johnson, director of the Sacred Arts Chorale, and the singers.

Using the flame from the single candle placed on the Holy Table, Dharma and Barnet proceeded to light the many other candles held by the audience in the nave. The acolyte lit the many candles in the chancel, including two menorahs, recognizing the Jewish setting of the Presentation in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Mary DeVeau led a prayer blessing the candles. Recited in unison, it was composed by Barnet for the occasion. Mark Wasserstrom later commented, “The references to various religious traditions makes the prayer universal and inclusive. As a Jew, I felt more welcomed in the Episcopal setting.” John Gregory agreed: “The wide range of the world’s religions, each with its essential symbolic use of light, were brought together nicely by the venue itself and by the light we shared with one another from our candles.”

The evening continued with an eloquently intertwined performance of music and sonnets. Beau Bledsoe played music from the baroque era on various string instruments and the 13 voices of the Chorale performed the complete William Byrd Mass for Four Voices. Alternating with the musical offerings, Barnet briefly introduced each of nine sonnets to assist the audience in navigating their complexities, which were then performed by actor Matt Schwader, from Barnet’s new book, Thanks for Noticing. For Donna Ziegenhorn, with Matt’s readings, the sonnets “absolutely came to life, jumped off the page through his talent, skill, and heart, moving me and at times amusing me, too. Who will ever forget ‘My skin still works’?” 

As the candles were extinguished, the audience was sprinkled with the Interfaith Waters, reminding us that our little lights can be extinguished, but the Light Invisible pervades the universe and is a persistent grace. 

The responses to Candlemas have noted the eloquence, beauty, and atmosphere of the program. Everyone seemed to find particular components of the evening that spoke profoundly to them within their own backgrounds and faith traditions. Scott Martinez puts it quite simply: “We are all human beings on the same rock and are all affected by the same light.”

Geneva Blackmer


Additional Planning and Program Details

* After Christmas, the Tivoli Theaters showed a slide promoting the Candlemas program before every film. An announcement to a CRES MailChimp list was emailed. 

* The Kansas City Star printed a nice preview by Patrick Neas the Sunday before the performance. 

* Although an admission charge of $10 was suggested, admission was free. The budget, including in-kind contributions, was about five thousand dollars. With advance subscription and contributions at the door, it was possible to make a small gift to the Cathedral for its support and hospitality. 

* As folks entered the Cathedral, they received heart-shaped, red-wrapped chocolates contributed by André’s Confiserie Suisse and copies of the 8-page color program.

* The gathering of about 150 people on a beautiful February evening was welcomed by the Cathedral Dean, the Very Reverend Peter DeVeau. 

* Since William Byrd was a recusant Roman Catholic during the Queen Elizabeth’s reign, his Mass seemed to have been originally sung as part of a secret worship service; so it is a special pleasure to celebrate advancing religious embrace by performing it in the setting of an Episcopal Cathedral as a House of Prayer for All People. 

* The program concluded with the performers recessing as Beau Bledsoe played the same piece with which they processed. 

* The Cathedral Bookstore was open after the event, and copies of Thanks for Noticing were sold. Since the copies were donated to the Cathedral, 100% of the price benefited the Bookstore.

The Printed Program

* In addition to outlining the 92-minute performance with the prayer blessing the candles, the printed program included instructions for audience candle-lighting; commentary about William Byrd and his Mass for Four Voices; the history of the Candlemas festival in pre-Christian and Christian times and the story of the Presentation; a photo of the Presentation Window in the Cathedral; bio-sketches of the performers; introductions to the nine sonnets read corresponding to sections of the Mass.

* The last page included acknowledgments of the many people in many roles who made the event possible, including the Benefactors, volunteers, and the  staff; information about the Cathedral and the Saint John’s Bible displayed during the performance; a description of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, the cooperating partner for the event; and a history of the collection of Waters of the World. 

Comments and Evaluation

* While at least one person commented that, as a way to recreate the pre-electronic time of Shakespearean England, he appreciated the spare use of sound amplification in addition to the use of candles, others complained that they could not always hear the brief interviews of the performers early in the program and had difficulty in hearing the introductions to the sonnets. (While the printed program encouraged folks to sit in the front part of the nave by stating that “most of the program is not amplified,” the crowd was larger than expected and folks arriving later had to sit further back.) 

* A range of opinion was expressed about Prologue interviews. For many, the extensive printed program was sufficient, and some found the explanations especially helpful. For others, the interviews lessened or interrupted the sense of the flow within sacred space and time. 

* One person exclaimed to the poet that the evening’s had an arc beginning with the youthful invitation of the first sonnet through the troubles and joys of life to the somber meditation on death and the love that survives in the final sonnet. “How lucky you are to have lived long enough to experience these changes and to write about them!”

* Many people said that they were surprised at how well the Elizabethan period music and the contemporary sonnets were integrated. Barnet responded, “They both pointed toward the sacred. The language of the sonnets is often indebted to this time in the development of English, and particularly to Anglican writers, and most especially the Book of Common Prayer which is specifically cited and quoted.”

* Musically literate people who had never heard a Mass by William Byrd before expressed delight in having this opportunity. 

* Some who had never been to the Cathedral returned the following Sunday for worship.

* Other comments received by email are represented by those here, used with permission,

Blessing of candles 
borrowing phrases from TS Eliot

    As our light illumines one another, 
    let us join our voices together:

O LIGHT INVISIBLE, too great for mortal vision,
in the midst of the world’s tumult, 
from uncertain travels in hope’s rickety wagon, 
through the darkness of chance and mishap—
we bring flames of the world’s faiths 
to fill the night, to answer the darkness, 
to remind us of the INVISIBLE FLAME, 
too bright for mortal vision, always with us. 

As in the Christian story the infant Jesus was 
     presented in the Temple and called a Light, 
as in Jewish faith candles mark the Sabbath, 
as in the Hindu faith Divali lights assure, 
as in the Qur'an Allah is called the Light, 
as the Buddha means the Enlightened One . . . 
as these and every other faith seek and give light,

O LIGHT INVISIBLE, too great for mortal vision,
Bless us and these candles, that we may WITNESS
love’s light growing bright within and about us.

For these little lights that we can see and carry,
we give thanks for you, O LIGHT INVISIBLE. 


If you are interested in telling us about your Candlemas experience,  please send us an email:  --  We'd value any comment you might make, and we'd certainly be grateful for any responses to any of the following:

1. Overall, how would you describe your experience of "Candlemas: Light, Music, and Poetry"?

2. How did the environment -- the Cathedral setting, the dim lighting as you entered, the candles, the incense, the sprinkling with waters from around the world, the 8-page program, objects from the world's religions on the Holy Table, the procession and recessional -- affect your enjoyment of the evening? Please mention specifically if any of these elements were especially meaningful to you.

3. In the prayer spoken by the audience to bless the candles, how did you feel about including many of the world's religions with their references to light?

4. The performers included the Sacred Arts Chorale, musician Beau Bledsoe, and actor Matt Schwader reading sonnets by Vern Barnet, who introduced them. What stands out for you, surprised you, or added value to your experience?

5. The intent was to provide a sense of sacred time and space, and to enhance individual and community spirit as we carry light forward. How did the evening fail or succeed?

6. To our knowledge, never before has a Mass been paired, movement by movement, with sonnets from a book arranged by movements of the Mass. Did the flow of music and readings seem jumbled or did it create an arc or direction that seemed fulfilling?

7. If you enjoyed the evening, do you have ideas or locations where another use of Vern's sonnets might be employed?

8. May we quote you by name?