words and music by Greg Scheer
based on Luke 2:29-32
Lord God, now let your servants depart in peace;
for our eyes have seen your saving grace.
A light to the world and the light of the life.
seen in our Savior’s face.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
One of my favorite things about the early chapters of Luke is that everyone is breaking into song–Mary, Zechariah, Simeon, and the angels all sang in response to the good news of Christ’s birth. Simeon’s song, traditionally called the Nunc Dimmittis, is one of my favorites. In Luke 2, Simeon is described as righteous, filled with the Holy Spirit, and looking forward to the consolation of Israel. Perhaps this is why he immediately recognized the infant Jesus as the Messiah. Further, he was ready to greet him with a song of praise. May we all be so prepared to meet the Savior!
I’ve always wanted to set Simeon’s song to music, simply because I love this passage of Scripture. But I also think it’s useful to use Psalms and Canticles (non-Psalm biblical songs like the Nunc Dimmittis) within the context of worship. In the same way that Simeon, having seen Jesus, could depart in peace, we worshipers experience Jesus in the Word and sacraments, and can leave church praising God.
Hear the inimitable Brooks Ritter sing “Lord God, Now Let Your Servants Depart in Peace” on the CD Songs for the Book of Luke.