216. Song of Simeon

Text Information
First Line: Now may your servant, Lord
Title: Song of Simeon
Versifier: Dewey Westra (1931, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 667 D
Scripture: ;
Topic: Christmas; Close of Worship; Salvation
Language: English
Tune Information
Harmonizer: Claude Goudimel (1564)
Composer: Louis Bourgeois (1551)
Meter: 667 D
Key: F Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Luke 2:29-30
st. 2 = Luke 2:31-32

Recorded in Luke 2:29-32, Simeon's song is the final (fourth) "great" canticle in Luke 1-2 (see also 212, 213, and 214). 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. Dewey Westra (PHH 98) versified the text in Detroit in 1931 for the 1934 Psalter Hymnal; it was revised slightly for the 1987 edition.

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 services (see 247 for more information on this tradition). 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.

Liturgical Use:
Suitable as a hymn for dismissal, especially after the Lord's Supper, and during Epiphany, since it brings to focus the worldwide character and task of the church. Also appropriate for funerals.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Louis Bourgeois (PHH 3) composed NUNC DIMITTIS for the Song of Simeon; the tune was first published in the 1547 edition of the Genevan Psalter. Claude Goudimel (PHH 6) wrote the harmonization in 1564 with the melody originally in the tenor voice. Some Christian denominations associate this tune with the ancient Greek "Candlelight Hymn," which begins with the words "O gladsome Light, O grace" in the translation by Matthew Bridges (PHH 410).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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