Nunc Dimittis

Sometimes I accidentally compose music.

I had been setting hymns for the next few weeks with Alison, our Director of Music, and she mentioned that the choir had been asked to sing a setting of the Nunc Dimittis (or Song of Simeon, Luke 2:29-32) for the imminent Feast of Candlemas (2nd February). While there are lots of good settings out there, we couldn't immediately think of anything suitable. On the way home I turned the problem over in my head, and by the time I'd got back I had the key, metre, structure and some of the basic ideas worked out. By about 6pm I was transcribing the sketch onto the computer...

I think the choir had more trouble singing it than I had writing it! and to be honest, it could have done with being a little less last minute and having a little bit more rehearsal time.

It is set for SATB and organ (though it could be played on the piano), and you can download the PDF here: Nunc Dimittis. I've used the translation found in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for the text.

Because of the liturgical nature of this work there isn't likely to be a recording of it any time soon and so I'm making the score freely available. You can download and print copies of it, and perform it in any liturgical setting, or indeed any non-profit setting. If you want to perform it commercially that's great, but you do need to ask permission for that. If you have a programme or service sheet please do list me as the composer and if possible add the web address of this site (

The most important thing in performing it is that it is not too slow. It's much closer to poco allegro than it is to andante, think a slow one-in-the-bar. But it is also very gentle; the forte section should be rich and full, but not harsh. If you're playing it on the piano, you might want to double the left hand in octaves in places. It might also be sung a cappella, or with the organ playing the vocal line.


I hope you like my music.
I need your help to make more.

Join me today and with your support I can write and publish more inspiring music.


For full access to download all the music on this site you need to login or join Ilmar Music.