These are the opening words of the prayer of Simeon (Luke 2: 29-32) when the Christ-child was brought to him at the temple, taken from the Vulgate (‘Nunc dimittis servum tuum domine’). The prayer was used by Christians from the 4th century onwards: it was included in the liturgical material of the Apostolic Constitutions at that time. Although not normally used in Monastic liturgies, it became a part of Compline before the Reformation, and it became a much-loved element in the order for Evening Prayer of the Church of England.
It has been an inspiration to hymn writers for many generations. Luther* ‘s ‘Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin* has the title ‘Nunc dimittis servum tuum domine’,...
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