Lord, Bid Your Servant Go in Peace (Luke 2:29-32)

Scripture References

Quoted or directly alluded to:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The Song of Simeon, recorded in the Gospel of Luke, is also known by its opening Latin words, Nunc dimittus. It has been sung every night for well over a thousand years in Christian communities that worship every day together. This song of joy and peace is part of the gospel account of the presentation of Jesus in the temple, involving first Simeon and then Anna, who express thanks that salvation in Christ is for Jew and Gentile alike. 


Sing!  A New Creation

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

When Simeon prayed these words, he must have been well aware of “the long road of redemption” as Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 18 calls it. God’s “fierce love” (paragraph 5) with which he held this world caused him to turn toward this world with patience and tender care (paragraph 18). Simeon is delighted to see the fulfillment of his promises.


Lord, Bid Your Servant Go in Peace (Luke 2:29-32)

Introductory/Framing Text

We declare to you what was from the beginning,
what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have looked at and touched with our hands,
concerning the word of life—
this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it,
and declare to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was revealed to us—
we declare to you what we have seen and heard
so that you also may have fellowship with us;
and truly our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son Jesus Christ.
We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
—1 John 1:1-4, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.
—Luke 2:10-11, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

In the past God spoke to our ancestors
through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,
whom he appointed heir of all things,
and through whom also he made the universe.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory
and the exact representation of his being,
sustaining all things by his powerful word.
After he had provided purification for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
—Hebrews 1:1-3, NIV
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


May Jesus Christ, the sun of righteousness,
who comes with healing in his wings,
fill you with the joy and peace that passes all understanding.
The blessing of God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Lord, Bid Your Servant Go in Peace (Luke 2:29-32)

Tune Information

F Major

Musical Suggestion

The music should be sung with a gentle energy, either in unison or in harmony. 

Lord, Bid Your Servant Go in Peace (Luke 2:29-32)

Hymn Story/Background

Recorded in Luke 2:29-32, Simeon's song is the final (fourth) "great" canticle in Luke 1-2. This song of joy and peace is part of the gospel account of the presentation of Jesus in the temple, involving first Simeon and then Anna (w. 21-40), who express thanks that salvation in Christ is for Jew and Gentile alike. Simeon's song is often called the Nunc Dimittis, after its incipit in Latin.
The Nunc Dimittis has traditionally been paired with the Magnificat for Vespers or evening services and is still sung daily in churches with a tradition of daily prayer. John Calvin used it at the end of the Lord's Supper. In the Scottish Kirk, if communion was served at both services, Psalm 103 would be used at the end of the morning Lord's Supper and the Song of Simeon at the end of the afternoon or evening Lord's Supper.
LAND OF REST is an American folk tune with roots in the ballads of northern England and Scotland. It was known throughout the Appalachians; a shape-note version of the tune was published in The Sacred Harp (1844) and titled NEW PROSPECT as the setting for "O land of rest! for thee I sigh." The tune was published again with that same text in J. R. Graves's Little Seraph (Memphis, 1873). The name LAND OF REST derives from the tune's association with that text.
Like many other folk tunes, LAND OF REST should be sung rather lightly and energetically with two pulses per measure, and faster in a small group. Sing stanzas 1 and 2 in unison (or using a soloist) and stanzas 3 through 5 in harmony.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

James Quinn (b. Glasgow, Scotland, April 21, 1919; d. Edinburgh, Scotland, April 8, 2010) was a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest who was ordained in 1950. As a consultant for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, sparked by Vatican II, he has exerted influence far beyond his native Scotland. A collection of his hymn texts is available from Selah Publishing company.

Composer Information

The tune was known to Annabel M. Buchanan (b. Groesbeck, TX, 1888; d. Paducah KY, 1983), whose grandmother sang it to her as a child. She harmonized the tune and published it in her Folk Hymns of America (1938), noting similarities between this tune and the tune for "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."
Known especially as a musicologist of American folk music, Buchanan was educated at the Landon Conservatory, Dallas, Texas, and the Guilmant Organ School, New York City. She taught at several colleges, including Stonewall Jackson College, Abingdoll, Virginia. Buchanan published numerous articles on folk traditions of the Appalachian area of the United States. She also lectured widely on this topic and gave recitals of folk music. Her own compositions also show the influence of folk music.
— Bert Polman

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