Nunc Dimittis

Nunc Dimittis are the first words of the Latin song of Simeon, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace," appointed as one of the hymns to be used in the rubric of the Church of England and in the Protestant Episcopal service after the second lesson at even-song. It was used in this place in the most ancient times. It is found in the apostolical constitutions. Even at the present day this hymn is repeated at evening prayer in the patriarchate of Constantinople. After the second evening lesson out of the epistles of the holy apostles this hymn is most commonly used. The author of it is supposed to be that holy doctor whom the Jews call Simeon the Just, son of the famous rabbi Hillel, a man of eminent integrity, and one who opposed the then common Opinion of the Messiah's temporal kingdom. The occasion of composing it was his meeting Christ in the Temple when he came to be offered there, wherein God fulfilled his promise to him that he should not die till he had seen the Messiah; taking Jesus therefore in his arms, inspired with joy and the Holy Ghost, he sang this "Nunc dimittis." This hymn comes very properly after the second lesson, which is always taken out of the New Testament, wherein is contained and delivered that Gospel, the enjoyment and participation of which is the ground and foundation of the whole hymn. It should be added that this hymn is addressed to God; and, since it may be used as the personal address of every devout Christian, no one should repeat it in a careless manner.

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