The Song of Aimeon.
Louis Bourgeois (b. Paris, France, c. 1510; d. Paris, 1561). In both his early and later years Bourgeois wrote French songs to entertain the rich, but in the history of church music he is known especially for his contribution to the Genevan Psalter. Apparently moving to Geneva in 1541, the same year John Calvin returned to Geneva from Strasbourg, Bourgeois served as cantor and master of the choristers at both St. Pierre and St. Gervais, which is to say he was music director there under the pastoral leadership of Calvin. Bourgeois used the choristers to teach the new psalm tunes to the congregation. The extent of Bourgeois’s involvement in the Genevan Psalter is a matter of scholarly debate. Calvin had published several partial psalter…
The title is formed from the opening words in the Latin Vulgate, “Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine” (“Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord”). Although brief, the canticle abounds in Old Testament allusions. For example, “Because my eyes have seen thy salvation” alludes to Isaiah 52:10.
According to the narrative in Luke 2:25-32, Simeon was a devout Jew who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for the ceremony of consecration of the firstborn son (after the time of Mary’s purification: at least 40 days after the birth, and thus distinct from the circumcision), Simeon was there, and he took Jesus into his arms and uttered words rendered variously as follows:
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.
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