Nunc Dimittis

The song of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32), which derives its name from the first two words in the Latin version. Simeon was an aged Israelite who cherished the messianic expectation and was under the inspiration of the Spirit. When he saw Joseph and Mary bring Jesus into the Temple for the rites of purification forty days after his birth, he took hold of the baby Jesus and uttered the words of his song. This consists of (1) a statement that he can now die in peace because he has at last been granted what he was promised-a view of the Messiah, and (2) a description of the salvation which the Messiah brings-light for the Gentiles and glory for Israel. This is appropriate to its setting and it is unnecessary to read into it a Christian theology of the Gentile mission and then to dismiss it as unauthentic. It has been used as an evening canticle in the worship of the Eastern and Western churches since at least the fourth century.