Nunc dimittis

Nunc dimittis
Simeon's Song of Praise by Aert de Gelder, around 1700–1710.

The Nunc dimittis[1] /nʊŋk dɪˈmɪtɪs/ (also Song of Simeon or Canticle of Simeon) is a canticle from a text in the second chapter of Luke named after its first words in Latin, meaning 'Now dismiss...'.[2] (Luke 2:29–32)

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 Jerusalem 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.



The start of the Nunc dimittis in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

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 (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.

English (New Revised Standard Version, 1989):

Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

Liturgy and musical settings

Stained glass window in St. Alban's Anglican Church in Copenhagen, Denmark, depicting the "Nunc dimittis"-scene

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, as well as both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran service of Compline. 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.

Among Lutheran churches, the Nunc Dimittis may be sung following the reception of the Eucharist.[3]

Many composers have set the text to music, usually coupled in the Anglican church 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

See also


  1. ^ Nunc dimittis servum tuum: now lettest thou thy servant depart; Minnie Gresham Machen, "The Bible in Browning" The Macmillan Company, 1903
  2. ^ "Nunc Dimittis". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  3. ^ Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House, 2005.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nunc Dimittis — • The Canticle of Simeon found in Luke 2:29 32 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Nunc Dimittis     Nunc Dimittis     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Nunc Dimittis — Le Nunc dimittis appelé aussi Prière de Siyméon est une des prières que les chrétiens prononcent le plus fréquemment. Elle caractérise en particulier l office de complies, le dernier office avant de s endormir. Le nom de cette prière lui vient de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nunc dimittis — Nunc di*mit tis [L. nunc now + dimittis thou lettest depart.] (Eccl.) The {song of Simeon} ( Luke ii. 29 32), used in the ritual of many churches. It begins with these words in the Vulgate. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Nunc Dimittis — [nooŋk′ di mit′is] n. [L, now thou lettest depart: first words of the L version] 1. the song of Simeon, used as a canticle in various liturgies: Luke 2:29 32 2. [n d ] a) departure or farewell, esp. from life b) permission to depart; dismissal …   English World dictionary

  • Nunc dimittis — Darbringung im Tempel (Meister der Pollinger Tafeln, 1444) Das Nunc dimittis (von lat. Nun entlässt du [Herr, deinen Knecht], den Anfangsworten, auch genannt Lobgesang des Simeon bzw. Canticum Simeonis) ist mit dem Magnificat und dem Benedictus… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Nunc dimittis — La presentación en el templo por Giovanni Bellini. El Nunc dimittis (también llamado El Cántico de Simeón) es un cántico del Evangelio de Lucas,[1] así llamado por sus primeras palabras en latín …   Wikipedia Español

  • Nunc dimittis — La Présentation au Temple de Giotto à la chapelle Scrovegni Le Nunc dimittis appelé aussi cantique de Syméon est une des prières que les chrétiens prononcent le plus fréquemment. Elle caractérise en particulier l office divin de complies, le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nunc Dimittis —    One of the three Gospel canticles for the major divine offices of the Roman Catholic liturgy, known as the Canticle of Simeon (St. Luke 2: 29–32;), sung at compline in the Roman rite and at Evening prayer in the Anglican rite. In the Gregorian …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • Nunc Dimittis — /nungk di mit is, noongk / 1. (italics) the canticle beginning with the words of Simeon, in Luke 2:29 32, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. 2. (l.c.) permission to leave; dismissal or departure. [ < L] * * * ▪ biblical canticle… …   Universalium

  • Nunc Dimittis —    The Latin title for the Song of Simeon, meaning Now lettest Thou (Thy servant) depart (in peace), which is sung after the Second Lesson at Evening Prayer in praise of the manifestation of the Incarnate Word. It is to be found in St. Luke 2:29… …   American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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