AskDefine | Define nunc

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  1. now
    ...nunc, et in hora mortis nostris., and in the hour of our death.

Usage notes

  • In English, "now" is sometimes used to mean a point in the past or future, as opposed to a previous point. "Nunc" always means the literal present; the other use of "now" is usually translated "iam."

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

The Nunc dimittis (also Song of Simeon or Canticle of Simeon) is a canticle from a text in the second chapter of Luke (Luke 2:29–32) named after its first words in Latin.
Simeon was a devout Jew who, according to the book of Luke, had been promised by the Holy Ghost that he would not die until he had seen the Saviour. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for the ceremony of consecration of the firstborn son (not the circumcision, but rather after the time of Mary's purification: at least 40 days after the birth), Simeon was there, and he took Jesus into his arms and uttered words rendered variously as follows.


Original Greek (Novum Testamentum Graece):
Νυν απολύεις τον δούλον σου, Δέσποτα, κατά το ρήμα σου εν ειρήνη,
ότι είδον οι οφθαλμοί μου το σωτήριόν σου,
ο ητοίμασας κατά πρόσωπον πάντων των λαών,
φως εις αποκάλυψιν εθνών και δόξαν λαού σου Ισραήλ.
Latin (Vulgate):
Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.
English (Douay-Rheims):
Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace;
Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:
A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
English (The Divine Office):
At last, all-powerful Master,
You give leave to your servant
to go in peace, according to your promise.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared for all nations,
the light to enlighten the Gentiles,
and give glory to Israel, your people.
English (King James Bible)
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
English (Book of Common Prayer (1662)):
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace : according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen : thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared : before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles : and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
English (Common Worship):
Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:
your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people;
A light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.
English (New Revised Standard Version of the Bible):
Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.

Musical settings

Many composers have set the text to music, usually coupled with the Magnificat, as both the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis are sung (or said) during the Anglican service of Evening Prayer according to the Book of Common Prayer. The Nunc dimittis is sung or said during the Roman Catholic Compline service, the Eastern Orthodox Vespers, and the Anglican Night Prayer service (in Common Worship) as well. One of the most well-known settings in England is a plainchant theme of Thomas Tallis.

Literary settings

In conclusion to section two (The Queen of Air and Darkness), chapter six of T. H. White's The Once and Future King, the wise necromancer Merlyn recites the first few passages of the Nunc Dimittis in response to King Arthur's declaration of chivalry. Establishing a code in which those who enter his league of chivalry must swear an oath to use their might only for the purpose of good, Arthur has fulfilled Merlyn's expectations as a pupil and thus Merlyn is released from voluntary servitude as Arthur's mentor and tutor. Reciting the nunc dimittis determines the fact that Merlyn has instructed his pupil successfully and could be no more proud of his judgment and character in relation to his establishment of the code of chivalry.
The account has been rendered powerfully in poetic form by T. S. Eliot in A Song for Simeon
"...Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel's consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow..."


nunc in German: Nunc dimittis
nunc in Modern Greek (1453-): Νυν απολύεις
nunc in Spanish: Nunc dimittis
nunc in French: Nunc dimittis
nunc in Italian: Nunc dimittis
nunc in Latin: Nunc dimittis
nunc in Hungarian: Nunc dimittis
nunc in Dutch: Nunc dimittis
nunc in Japanese: ヌンク・ディミティス
nunc in Polish: Nunc Dimittis
nunc in Portuguese: Nunc dimittis
nunc in Finnish: Simeonin kiitosvirsi
nunc in Swedish: Nunc dimittis
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