The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Nunc Dimittis, The Prayer of Symeon

For Christmas

Words and Music: Scottish Traditional

Source: John Wedderburn,'ed., A Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual Songs Commonly Known as 'The Gud and Godlie Ballatis. Commonly Known as 'The Gude and Godlie Ballatis.' Reprinted from the Edition of 1567, A. F. Mitchell, ed. (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1897), pp. 57-58.

Lord lat thy seruand now depart,
In glaidnes, rest and peace :
I am reioysit at my hart,
To se his godlie face,
Quhome faithfullie thow promeist me,
Christ Jesus, King of grace.

This present dede salbe full sweit,
And in to sleip sail changeit be :
To rest, syne ryis, bot euer my Spreit
Sall leue, and be alwyse with the,
Throw Faith in Christ, my onlie traist,
Quhome presentlie I se.

Our Sauiour thow hes him maid,
His deide sall saue vs all
From sin and hell, the Deuill and deide :
His resurrectioun sall
Frelie vs geue, ever for to leue,
In gloir perpetuall.

Of Hethin folk, blindit so soir,
He is the verray lycht,
Quhilk neuer hard of him befoir,
Nor saw him with thair sycht:
He is the gloir, pryse and decoir,
And strenth of Israell rycht.


The editor of this volume, A. F. Mitchell, had this note concerning this song at pp. 253:

P. 57. Nunc dimittis, the prayer of Synuon.—The German title is "Der Lobgesang Simeonis, des Altuaters, Nunc dimittis, Luc. ij." The hymn first appeared in one of the 1524 editions of Luther's hymns (' Geystliche Gesanckbuchleyn'), and the first stanza of it and of a modern English translation of it are given below. The Scotch translation is not very close, save in the first and last verses. The second and fourth lines in the German consist only of four syllables, but in the Scotch of six, in the first, third, and fourth verses, and of eight in the second verse. Miss Winkworth also has six syllables in her translation of these lines :—

"Myt frid und freud ich far do hin,
ynn Gotts wille,
Getrost ist myr meyn hertz und sin,
sanfft und stille,
Wie Gott myr verheyssen hat:
der tod ist meyn schlaff worden."
"In peace and joy I now depart,
According to God's will;
For full of comfort is my heart,
So calm and sweet and still:
So doth God his promise keep,
And death to me is but a sleep."

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