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The Nunc dimittis (also Song of Simeon or Canticle of Simeon) is a canticle from a text in the second chapter of Luke (Luke 2:29–32) named after its first words in Latin.

Simeon was a devout Jew who, according to the book of Luke, had been promised by the Holy Ghost that he would not die until he had seen the Saviour. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalemmarker for the ceremony of consecration of the firstborn son (not the circumcision, but rather after the time of Mary's purification: at least 40 days after the birth), Simeon was there, and he took Jesus into his arms and uttered words rendered variously as follows.

Versions

Original Greek (Novum Testamentum Graece):
νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλόν σου, δέσποτα, κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου ἐν εἰρήνῃ·

ὅτι εἶδον οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου τὸ σωτήριόν σου,

ὃ ἡτοίμασας κατὰ πρόσωπον πάντων τῶν λαῶν,

φῶς εἰς αποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν καὶ δόξαν λαοῦ σου Ἰσραήλ.


Latin (Vulgate):
Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:

Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum

Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:

Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.


English (Douay-Rheims, 1582):
Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace;
Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:
A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.


English (Book of Common Prayer, 1662):
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.


English (New International Version, 1973):
Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace according to your word.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared before the face of all people,
a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.


English (The Divine Office (Grail Version), 1974)
At last, all-powerful Master, +
you give leave to your servant *
to go in peace, according to your promise.
For my eyes have seen your salvation *
which you have prepared for all nations,
the light to enlighten the Gentiles *
and give glory to Israel, your people.


English (Liturgy of the Hours, 1975)
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.


Liturgy and Musical settings

The Nunc Dimittis is the traditional 'Gospel Canticle' of Night Prayer (Compline), just as Benedictus and Magnificat are the traditional Gospel Canticles of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer respectively. Hence the Nunc Dimittis is found in the liturgical night office of many western denominations, including Evening Prayer (or Evensong) in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer of 1662, Compline (A Late Evening Service) in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer of 1928, and the Night Prayer service in the Anglican Common Worship; the Roman Catholic service of Compline; and the Lutheran service of Compline (also known as Night Prayer or Prayer at the Close of Day). In eastern tradition the canticle is found in Eastern Orthodox Vespers. One of the most well-known settings in England is a plainchant theme of Thomas Tallis.

Many composers have set the text to music, usually coupled with the Magnificat, as both the Magnificat and the Nunc dimittis are sung (or said) during the Anglican service of Evening Prayer according to the Book of Common Prayer, 1662, in which the older offices of Vespers (Evening Prayer) and Compline (Night Prayer) were deliberately merged into one service, with both Gospel Canticles employed.

Literary settings



References

  1. Nunc dimittis servum tuum: now lettest thou thy servant depart; Minnie Gresham Machen, "The Bible in Browning" The Macmillan Company, 1903


External links

List of available settings at Choral Public Domain Library.


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