As you know, I discovered I had to know Christian liturgy, first, when taking courses in the Fine Arts and, second, as a student of musicology. Students of musicology simply have to learn liturgy or the Nunc dimittis would make very sense. There was a demand for liturgical music. As a result, the development of polyphony, the combination of voices, occurred from liturgical chant to liturgical chant and from madrigal to madrigal, its secular counterpart. 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.
February 2nd 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.”
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. _________________________ Religious art 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
© Micheline Walker
February 2, 2012