Pray the Nunc Dimittis

A fitting benediction to your Christmas celebration or to your everyday life. 

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Pray the Nunc Dimittis at the end of the day. Photo by Jayson Photography.

If I had to choose my favorite time to pray, I would say, all the time. But if you forced me to give a narrower answer, I would say, bedtime.

Or, to use the more liturgical term, Compline, which is the seventh and final prayer service (or office) of the day. (The English word Compline comes from the Latin completorium, or completion.)

Pray the Nunc Dimittis at the end of the day. Photo by Jayson Photography.I’ve written elsewhere about the blessing of Compline, but one of the greatest blessings of my evening prayers is the Nunc Dimittis.

“The What What?” you might ask.

The Nunc Dimittis is the “Song of Simeon” or “Canticle of Simeon” recorded in Luke 2:29–32.

The title, Nunc Dimittis, is simply the first two words of the song–which is also a prayer–in Latin. (“Nunc dimittis” translates to “now dismiss.”)

It was Simeon’s response when he met Mary and Joseph presenting the infant Jesus in the Temple:

Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,

According to Your word;

For my eyes have seen Your salvation

Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,

A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,

And the glory of Your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32, NKJV)

Like the Magnificat, the Nunc Dimittis is a wonderfully appropriate prayer to pray during Advent, as well as a fitting prayer for the ending of the day, which is why it is included in the text for Compline. I usually pray it in a slightly adapted form: 

Lord, now let Your servant go in peace,

according to Your word;

for my eyes have seen Your salvation,

which You have prepared in the sight of all people,

a light to enlighten the Gentiles,

and the glory of Your people Israel. Amen. 

Sometimes I’ll add a word or phrase (for example, “Lord, now let Your servant go to sleep in peace” or “my eyes have seen Your great salvation”), but I pray it most evenings and usually in the exact form in which I first learned it.

However you pray it, the Nunc Dimittis can be a fitting benediction to your Christmas celebration or to your everyday life. 

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