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Nunc Dimittis, Simeon's Song of Praise, by Aert de Gelder

Nunc Dimittis, Simeon’s Song of Praise, by Aert de Gelder

Aert de Gelder (or Arent, October 26, 1645 – August 27, 1727) is one of Rembrandt’s last pupils while in Amsterdam (1661 to 1663) (Wikipedia)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

As you know, I discovered I had to know Christian liturgy, first, taking courses in Fine Arts and, second, as a student of musicology.  Students of musicology simply have to learn liturgy or the Nunc dimittis makes little sense.  And a knowledge of the history of art is both useful and delightful.

In my family Candlemas was celebrated, but it was not explained to me that the Nunc dimittis was Simeon’s Song of Praise, a canticle.  In fact, although I attended a Catholic school, we were never told that Candlemas was a commemoration of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and of Mary’s Purification after Childbirth.

Nunc dimittis

February 2 is “Nunc dimittis” day and “Nunc dimittis” is Simeon’s Song of Praise. In yesterday’s blog I inserted Palestrina’s “Nunc dimittis,” but today we will hear William Byrd‘s “Nunc dimittis” as well as three cantatas produced for Candlemas by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Here are the words of the “Nunc Dimittis:”

English (Book of Common Prayer, 1662)
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.
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.


Micheline Walker©
February 2nd, 2012
Religious art
(please click on the title to hear the music) 
J. S. Bach, Cantata: Ich habe genug, BWV 82,
J. S. Bach, Cantata: Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde, BWV 83
J. S. Bath, Cantata: Mit Fried und Freud, ich fahr dahinBWV 125
composer: William Byrd (1540 or late 1539 – 4 July 1623, by the Julian calendar, 14 July 1623, by the Gregorian calendar) 
title: Nunc Dimittis 
performers: Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford