Wednesday, July 21, 2010

English Anthems: Nunc Dimittis

The Nunc Dimittis, also known as "The Song of Simeon" is used in multiple places in the Lutheran orders. In North America you can find it at the end of the Divine Service, as an option for the canticle in Vespers, and chanted a capella in the Office of Compline (sometimes called, "Prayer at the Close of the Day").

Taken from Luke's account of the Presentation of Our Lord, this is the song sung by Simeon, to whom "it had been revealed ... by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ."

Several composers have set the English translation of this text. Here is one translation and just a few English anthems based on the text.

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 light on the Gentiles
And to be the glory of Thy people Israel.
Glory be to the Father
And to the Son
And to the Holy Ghost,
As it was the beginning,
Is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.


Nunc Dimittis
by John Shephard (1515-1559)


Nunc Dimittis
from The Shorter Service
by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)


Nunc Dimittis
from Evening Service in g minor
by Henry Purcell (1659-1695)


Nunc Dimittis
by Thomas Atwood Walmisley (1814-1856)


Nunc Dimittis in D
by George Dyson, (1883-1964)
Dyson draws on chant as well as the English anthem style


Nunc Dimittis
from The Short Service
by Philip Stopford [b. 1977(?)]

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