The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Awake! Awake! The Watchman Calls

For Advent

Words: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, Philipp Nicolai, 1598-9
Translation by Henrietta Joan Fry, 1845

Inspired by the Parable of the Ten Virgins: Matthew 25: 1-13
Includes notes and a listing of some of the many hymns and carols inspired by this Parable.

Music: "Nach," Hans Sachs (1494-1576),
adapted by Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608)
arr. and harm. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / XML
Meter: Irr.

Source: Henrietta Joan Fry, ed., Hymns of the Reformation (London: Charles Gilpin, 1845), pp. 33-36.

Matthew xxv.

Awake! awake! the watchman calls,
Who walks by night, on Zion’s walls:
Where yonder ramparts proudly swell,
There stands the wary sentinel.
Awake! Jerusalem, awake!
Nor more thy drowsy slumbers take.
'Tis midnight: hark ! they cry the hour;
The voice resounds with quickening power:
’Tis midnight ; and we hear it still;
The voice is loud, and clear, and shrill.
Where now are you, ye maidens, fair?
Where do ye dwell, oh, tell me where?
Ye virgins crowned with wisdom’s gem,
Ye daughters of Jerusalem!
Then come, we bid you welcome here;
Behold the Bridegroom’s footsteps near.
Arise ye damsels, waiting stand,
Each with her lighted lamp in hand :
Now for the marriage feast prepare,
For you shall meet the bridegroom there.

Zion the watchmen’s voices heard,
And soon her soul with rapture stirred:
She starts—she makes no longer stay,—
Her heavenly Friend is on his way.
He comes, arrayed in princely vest,
He comes, with beams of glory drest:
He comes in strength, He comes with grace,
With mercy’ s signet on his face ;
Clothed with the might of truth is He,
In all His regal majesty.

Behold the light of Zion’s walls!
How glistening are her pinnacles!
Her day-star rises, and her sky
Reflects the lustre of that eye.

Oh, Thou! enthroncd in peerless might,
And crowned with beams of living light;
Lord Jesus! Son of God most high,
Come Thou, and answer when we cry;
Then loud Hosannas we will sing
To Thee, Redeemer God, and Zion’s glorious King.

Then onwards to the banquet hall,
Where Joy lights up her festival,
We follow, and together there
The hallowed evening meal prepare.

Glory to Thee, oh God! be sung,
By voices in accordance strung;
Whilst men and angels all combine
In strains of melody divine ;
With harps and cymbals, that proclaim
New anthems to Thy mighty name.

Twelve gates of pearl Thy city grace;
How fair must be that dwelling-place!
There shall our joyful spirits greet
Angelic bands, companions sweet,
Exalted to the glorious throne,
Where Thou Thy ransomed saints shalt own.
No eye hath seen, nor ear hath heard,
That blest fruition with the Lord;
And, therefore, strains of gladsome joy
For ever shall our hearts employ,
Whilst this our endless song shall be
Through heaven’s ecstatic jubilee!

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