The Nunc dimittis is a hymn from the Bible. It was sung by Simeon when he saw the baby Jesus.
The story told in the book of Luke was that Simeon, who was a Jew, had been promised by the Holy Ghost that he would not die until he had seen Jesus. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for the ceremony of consecration of the firstborn son, Simeon was there, and he took Jesus into his arms and said the words which are now known as the Nunc dimittis. He was saying to God that he could now die happily because he had seen the Saviour.
The words of the Nunc dimittis have been set to music by many composers. In the Anglican Church they are traditionally sung at Evensong.
The English words as found in the 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.