Nunc Dimittis

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SATB a cappella

By Patrick Rooney


I stumbled upon this text while reading about Sergei Rachmoninov's All Night Vespers, and the way he had painted the text in his setting of Nunc Dimittis. I was inspired by how he used both harmony
and texture to paint the calm, meditative nature of the text and how he captured it’s use as a prayer for the evening time.As I more closely examined the text, I began to feel its emotion and hear music in the words that gave me a deep desire to create a setting of my own. The biblical context of this text is of a prayer of praise and thanks. An old, suffering man (Simeon) was wishing for death to achieve peace at last. Upon seeing Jesus taken to the temple to be baptized, Simeon says these words of prayer to exalt and thank God for fulfilling the prophecy which He had promised would occur before Simeon could be released to death; the coming of the Son of God. This text has become possibly the most common evening prayer used in the worship services of churches in both the Eastern and WesternTraditions. In setting this text, I attempted to capture not just the meaning of the text, but also its meditative nature.

The composition is designed to progress as a journey of sorts, containing a sense of longing and a hope. The piece reaches a joyous climax illustrating the experience of witnessing Jesus’s long awaited
arrival. It is my hope that both performer and audience will experience the feeling of that journey.

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