NetFlix has brought home the waning years of the Cold War, Smiley-style, to our house these past few days. Of course I'm referring to the seriously wonderful adaptation of John Le Carre's book, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that aired in 1979, starring the inimitable Alec Guinness as John Smiley. The pace is deliciously slow, the dialogue at times poetic, banal, philosophic, arch. Very British. Very late 1970's, dripping with cynicism and a sad kind of nostalgia for days when honour meant something, even among spies.
But the crowning glory, in a very real sense, is the music that plays over the ending credits of each episode (there are six). Sung in English by a Cathedral choirboy of twelve at the time (Paul Phoenix), the heart-rending words of Simeon, an aged prophet of the Jerusalem temple, float across the landscape of London as white clouds slowly drift in a deep blue sky. Simeon says these words (as recorded in Luke 2:29-32) after he has witnessed the "Presentation at the Temple" of the child Jesus by his parents, Joseph and Mary.
Here is the text used for the song, originally scored by composer Geoffrey Burgon; it is part of the Evening Prayer in the Catholic Daily Office, said by all priests, religious, and many laypersons every day, and is a soft and beautiful prayer of resignation and grace received:
Lord, now let Thy servant depart in peace
According to Thy word.
For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation
Which Thou has prepared before the face of all peoples
To be a light to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Thy people, Israel.
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
If you want to hear this truly, deeply, spiritually enchanting song, go to: