(One of the goals of Brothers of John the Steadfast is to train the Brothers in good practice and theology. This article is one in a series that teaches about the liturgy.
These articles were initially intended to be put into bulletins or read during the service to educate the laity on the different parts of the service. They were therefore purposefully made short.
Notes on the Liturgy #21 — Post Communion Canticle & Collect
In Luke 2:25f, we read the account of a godly and presumably old man named Simeon. The Holy Spirit had promised Simeon that he would live to see the Christ. He fulfilled His promise when Mary and Joseph went to the Temple in Jerusalem to present Jesus before the Lord. Simeon picked up infant Jesus and holding Him in his arms he spoke by the guiding of the Holy Spirit, “Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; For my eyes have seen Thy salvation, Which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all people, A light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Thy people Israel.” (NASB)
From this text we derive the Post-Communion Collect called the Nunc Dimittis (meaning “now dismiss” or “now let [us] depart”). Simeon had seen all he needed to see and he could now die in peace. What wonderful words to apply to the end of Communion. We too have seen the Lord’s Salvation! We have received His Peace and can depart from the church building into the world with confidence. We have all we need in Christ.
The Post-Communion liturgy does not linger long. It is brief so as not to detract from the high point that was reached in Communion itself (L. Reed). The Communion liturgy promptly ends with the Post-Communion Collect. With the Collect we start the way we ended the Communion liturgy with a note of thanks for the gifts we beneficially received by faith. Read the Post-Communion Collects in your hymnal. (LSB p. 166 – the first two collects are found in all five Divine Service settings, the final collect is also given for DS 1, 2, and 4.) Ask yourself what these Collects teach you about Communion and about its implications for the fellowship of believers.
You may find all these by looking at our Regular Column on the Explanation of the Divine Service category or by using the shortcut https://steadfastlutherans.org/liturgy.
These notes were originally written in 2001 by Pastor David Oberdieck and have been edited. Thanks to Pastor Michael Mohr for improvements to this segment.