Come, children, gather ‘round tonight,
And listen in the candlelight
To how your great grandfather died.
It is a tale my father tried
To fix inside my heart so deep
That children after me would keep
The story in their hearts and try
To live like him and like him die.
Come listen now.
Was Simeon. His wife was lame
Until she died, five years before
The old man saw the baby King.
The kids were grown and everything
Was ready when the old man heard
Your great grandmother's final word.
My father heard it, too. She said,
"Dear Simeon, since we were wed,
Full sixty years of love to me
Have passed, and ripened you to see
What kings and righteous men of old
Have longed to see. The Lord foretold
A day of consolation here
In Zion when He would appear.
The Spirit testifies tonight
That you shall live and see the Light
Of all our dreams rise like the dawn
Of righteousness when I am gone."
"Does that mean, Daddy, she would die?"
Yes, she would die. Now listen why.
With love old Simeon leaned down
And gently stroked the silver crown
Of his dear wife, and softly said,
"The Spirit also says tonight
That you will see the dawning Light
Before it breaks on me. If I
Have ripened in my love, then why
I wonder, will God first pluck you,
Except that you have ripened, too?"
They smiled one of those knowing smiles
With sixty years and countless miles
Of secret ways and silent days.
My father said he saw the rays
Of heaven cross her face. And then
She died. "Were you there, Daddy, when
Greatgrandma died?" "No, son, your dad
Was just a twinkle in the glad
And hopeful eye of your grandma.
I wasn't born. But your grandpa
Remembered every word." "And then?"
Well, then old Simeon wondered when
The time would be of which she spoke."
The years went by. He'd sit and stoke
The fire at night and meditate
On holy prophecies 'til late.
And then he'd lie in bed and pray
That God would hasten soon the day
Of light. Five years, and then: it was
A quiet time at last, because
The Jewish pilgrims had gone home.
A month or so had passed since Rome
Took count of David's offspring in
Jerusalem. And now the din
Of all those days was very still,
And Simeon sensed, within, a thrill
That God was near. He lay awake
And waited for the Lord to take
His hand and lead him to the Light.
And then it happened. Late one night
He woke like Samuel to hear
A voice: "Wake, Simeon, don't fear.
Tomorrow you will see the Lord.
He will be meek—without a sword,
Without a spear, without a shield,
Or any army in the field.
Go early to the house of prayer,
And as you kneel and worship there,
Give praise for mercy to my name,
And I will manifest the same."
At dawn the old man knelt where he
Had prayed for years and now could see
The rich and poor draw near to give
Some sacrifice that they might live.
He looked at every worshipper,
And waited for his heart to stir
When the Messiah came to pray.
He thought, "It will be plain as day
When he walks through the temple gate."
"But, Daddy, Jesus couldn't..." Wait
A minute now! Did Simeon know?
It is a human trait to show
That we expect to find the best
Attended well, and finely dressed.
And even Simeon was stunned
That God, with all his strength, had shunned
The way of wealth, when God revealed:
‘It is the yonder child, concealed
Within the simple woolen shawl.'
Could Simeon believe that all
God ever promised lay asleep,
Like treasure bundled in a cheap
And tattered sling? Think on it now!
Would you believe that God somehow
Became a child? He did believe,
And lay the baby on his sleeve,
And trembling let the Spirit fill
His mouth. ‘Now by thy sovereign will,
O God of grace, let me depart,
And see more fully what thou art
In heaven with my precious wife,
And thee, in everlasting life.
For all thy word to me is done,
With love old Simeon leaned down
And I have seen the Promised One,
The great salvation thou hast made
For every people, every trade.
A light to guide the nations well,
And glory, too, for Israel.'"
And then he stopped. The parents were
Amazed. He set his eyes on her,
The young and pretty peasant girl,
And said, "This child is like a pearl,
Some men will forfeit everything
To have his love, while others cling
To worthless things and forfeit life.
He is a source of peace—and strife.
And many thoughts he will reveal
That men have thought they could conceal.
And you, most blessed woman too,
Will see what wicked men can do.
Your love to him will take its toll,
And like a sword will pierce your soul."
Then, speechless, Mary took the child
Again. The old man bowed and smiled
And disappeared. "What happened then?"
That evening grandpa found him when
He came from work. The fire was on,
The scroll unrolled, but he was gone.
His finger lay upon the line
That said, "A brilliant light will shine."
And now, my children, tell me this:
Do you believe that Jesus is
The fairest, brightest, strongest Light
That ever was or is tonight?
If so, then light this candle three
And sing a song of hope with me.