Depart in peace (Lk 2:29-2:29)

“Simeon said.

‘Lord!

Now you may

Dismiss

Your slave

In peace,

According to your word.’”

 

καὶ εἶπεν

Νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλόν σου, Δέσποτα, κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου ἐν εἰρήνῃ·

 

Luke had Simeon present the so-called “Nunc dimittis” canticle, named after the Latin translation of the first few words.  Simeon said (καὶ εἶπεν) that the Lord or Master could now dismiss his servant or slave (Νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλόν σου) in peace (ἐν εἰρήνῃ), according to the word of God (κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου).  Simeon indicated that he was ready to die.  He could be dismissed because his wish had been granted.  Basically, this canticle talks continuously about the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah.

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Rejoice in Yahweh (Hab 3:18-3:19)

“Yet I will rejoice

In Yahweh!

I will exult

In the God

Of my salvation!

God!

Yahweh!

Is my strength.

He makes my feet

Like the feet of a deer.

He makes me tread

Upon the heights.”

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

Habakkuk ended his song or hymn with great rejoicing in Yahweh his God, who saves him.  Clearly this was a psalm or canticle with the notation about the leader or choirmaster and the stringed instruments.  Yahweh, God, was his strength, who gave him the ability to run like a deer.  He could even ascend to the heights.  This psalm has a very optimistic ending.

Blessing God (Dan 3:3-3:4)

“Blessed are you!

O Lord!

God of our ancestors!

Worthy of praise!    

Glorious is your name

Forever!

You are just

In all

You have done!

All your works

Are true!

Your ways are right!

All your judgments

Are true!”

This hymn or canticle of Azariah begins with a blessing to God, the God of his ancestors, the Lord, whose glorious name is to be praised forever. God is just to all people. All his ways, works, and judgments are true. Everything he has done is wonderful.

Sing to the Lord a new song (Jdt 16:13-16:17)

“I will sing to my God a new song!

O Lord, you are great and glorious!

Wonderful in strength!

Invincible!

Let all your creatures serve you!

You spoke, and they were made.

You send forth your Spirit.

It formed them.

There is none that can resist your voice.

The mountains shall be shaken to their foundations with the waters.

Before your glance,

The rocks shall melt like wax.

But to those who fear you,

You show mercy.

Every sacrifice as a fragrant offering is a small thing.

The fat of all whole burnt offerings to you is a very little thing.

But who ever fears the Lord is great forever.

Woe to the nations that rise up against my people!

The Lord Almighty will take vengeance on them

In the Day of Judgment.

He will send fire and worms into their flesh.

They shall weep in pain forever.”

Now this canticle switched back to Judith praising God. Judith was going to sing a new song to the great and glorious God who has invincible strength. Once again there was an illusion to creation as she said that all creatures got their life from God. Therefore, they should praise God, who sent forth his Spirit to form the world. No one can resist the voice of God. He controls the mountains and the rocks. Sacrifices are trifling matters before God. The most important thing is to fear God. The Lord almighty will take vengeance on anyone who rises up against his people. The Day of Judgment is coming where there will be eternal weeping as fire and worms will eat flesh and cause eternal pain. Here we see the eschatological sense of a final judgment day, a post-exilic theme.

The intervention of Judith (Jdt 16:5-16:10)

“But the Lord Almighty has foiled them

By the hand of a woman.

For their mighty one did not fall by the hands of the young men.

The sons of the Titans did not strike him down.

The tall giants did not set upon him.

But Judith,

Daughter of Merari,

With the beauty of her countenance,

She undid him.

She put away her widow’s clothing.

To exalt the oppressed in Israel.

She anointed her face with perfume.

She fastened her hair with a tiara.

She put on a linen gown to beguile him.

Her sandal ravished his eyes.

Her beauty captivated his mind.

The sword severed his neck.

The Persians trembled at her boldness,

The Medes were daunted at her daring.”

Suddenly the canticle is about Judith rather than Judith praying to God. The almighty God struck down the enemy with a female, almost to say, even a woman got him because he was so weak. It was not a young strong male soldier, nor some giant that brought him down. No, it was the beautiful widow who put away her widow’s clothing, anointed her face, fastened her hair, and wore a linen gown. She ravished his eyes, captivated his mind, and severed his neck. General Holofernes was not a Persian but an Assyrian. Medes was associated with the Persians, once again indicating some inconsistent details.

The prayer of Tobit for the return to Jerusalem (Tob 13:14-14:1)

“Happy are those who love you!

Happy are those who rejoice in your prosperity!

Happy also are all who grieve with you because of your afflictions.

They will rejoice with you.

They will witness all your glory forever.

My soul blesses the Lord,

The great King!

Jerusalem will be built as his house for all ages

How happy I will be,

If a remnant of my descendents should survive,

They would see your glory,

They would acknowledge the King of heaven.

The gates of Jerusalem will be built with sapphires and emeralds.

All her walls will be built with precious stones.

The towers of Jerusalem will be built with gold.

The battlements will be built with pure gold.

The streets of Jerusalem will be paved with ruby.

The streets of Jerusalem will be paved with stones of Ophir.

The gates of Jerusalem will sing hymns of joy.

All her houses will cry ‘Hallelujah!’

Blessed be the God of Israel!

The blessed will bless your holy name forever and ever.’

This ended Tobit’s words of praise.”

The setting is the time before the destruction and rebuilding of Jerusalem. It is not just the Temple, but the whole town that will praise God. Everyone will be happy who love Jerusalem and want it to prosper. Those who have grieved with you will rejoice with its new glory. Tobit’s soul blessed the Lord, who is the great king. Jerusalem shall be his home for all ages to come. The remnant of his descendents will return and be happy in the glory of Jerusalem. They will acknowledge the king of heaven there. The renewed paved streets of Jerusalem will have sapphires, emeralds, Ophir, and all kinds of precious stones. The gates will have these stones plus golden towers. The gates and houses will cry out with Alleluia all over the place. The God of Israel is to be blessed. Thus, we come to the end of Tobit’s prayer. It is more like a lament, a longing for the return to Jerusalem. He, in fact, had lived in the north, not in Jerusalem, but he would journey every year to worship there. This canticle or hymn clearly believed in an idealized Jerusalem.