Honoring Simeon

It’s been more than ten years since the Episcopal Church adopted the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) for use in worship, replacing the lectionary found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Episcopal Church does deviate from the RCL a couple of times during the year, however. One of those times is the two Sundays after Christmas. (We have two Sundays after Christmas this year; that’s not the case every year.) For the First Sunday after Christmas the Episcopal Church uses the prologue to the Gospel of John for the gospel reading. This does not make me happy. First, John really annoys me for a number of reasons, which I won’t go into here. Second, I like hearing the story of Simeon and his song on the First Sunday after Christmas. (You’ll find Simeon in Luke 2:22-35.)

But wait. The RCL does not specify the Simeon passage for every year. The only time the Song of Simeon is designated is for Christmas 1 for year B, the year of Mark. (For those of you who are not liturgically inclined, we began Year C, the year of Luke, on the First Sunday of Advent this year.)

The Song of Simeon is one of my two favorite passages in the New Testament (the other being the Emmaus story). Simeon has inspired many great works of music. Simeon’s song begins, “Now Lord, let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled.” The Latin “nunc dimittis” means “You now dismiss (your servant)” and many of the works use the Latin.

Since we don’t find Simeon in the lectionary today I’ll share one of those musical pieces with you.

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