Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Presentation of Our Lord and Purification of Mary: Nunc Dimittis

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Purification of Mary. It's a mouthful, but 40 days after a child's birth these events took place.

We meet Simeon, who has been promised to see the Messiah before his death. We also meet the prophetess Anna, who never left the temple and worshiped with fasting and prayer day and night.

Anna proclaimed Jesus arrival "to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem" and Simeon gave us a prophecy and a canticle. The Latin title of this canticle is Nunc Dimittis, also known as "The Song of Simeon."

Historically, this canticle is sung near the end of Compline (Prayer at the Close of the Day). English-speaking churches may include it in Vespers or Evening Prayer as well. Lutherans also use this as a Post-Communion Canticle.


The Song of Simeon in Latin

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.

Gloria Patri, et Filio,
et Spiritui Sancto:
Sicut erat in principio,
et nunc, et semper,
et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

The Tallis Scholars
Setting by Palastrina


Setting by Gustav Holst


Classic English Translation

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.
A light to lighten the Gentiles
And the glory of Thy people Israel.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

The Choir of King's College
Setting by George Dyson


International Children's Choir Festival
Oxford, England


Combined Choirs in Ely Cathedral
Setting by Charles Villiers Stanford


Iggy's Word-for-Word Translation

Now dismiss your servant, Lord,
According to Your Word, in peace,
Because my eyes have seen your salvation
Which You prepared before the face of all people
A light for the Revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of Your people Israel.

Glory to the Father, and the Son,
and the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning,
and now, and always,
and in eternity. Amen.

The Brotherhood of St. Gregory
Song of Simeon metered in English
with Antiphon and Responses
from the Office of Compline


Moscow Patriarchate Choir
Sung in Russian


Pittsburgh Compline Choir
The Lord's Prayer and Nunc Dimittis