The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Wake, Ye Holy Maidens, Fearing

For Christmas

Words: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, Philipp Nicoli
Altered Translation of "Wake Ye Holy Maidens, Wake Ye" by Philip Pusey, 1840.

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: Not Stated

Source: Lord Horatio Nelson, et al., Salisbury Hymn Book (Salisbury: Brown and Co., London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., 1857), #153, p. 143

“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bride groom cometh, go ye out to meet Him."—Matt. xxv., 6.

1. Wake, ye holy maidens, fearing
To slumber out your Lord’s appearing;
    Hear ye the watchful herald’s cry !
Wake, Jerusalem, midnight tolleth;
Hark, how His chariot onward rolleth
    List, virgins wise, He draweth nigh:
Rise up ; with willing feet
Go out, the Bridegroom meet:
    Alleluia !
Bear through the night
Your well-trimmed light,
Speed forth to join the marriage rite.

2. Sion hears the herald’s singing;
Her heart of hearts with joy is springing,
    She starteth up, she hastes away:
Onward her Bridegroom cometh glorious,
In grace array’d, by truth victorious;
    Her grief is joy, her night is day.
Come, worthy Champion,
Christ, God Almighty’s Son!
We glide along
In pomp of song,
In haste to join the marriage throng.

3. Hymns of praise to Thee be given
By men on earth and saints in heaven,
    With harp, and lute, and psaltery :
Gates of pearl do guard Thy treasure,
We stand before them, keeping measure,
    In bursts of choral melody:
No vision ever bore,
No ear hath heard before,
    Such joy and pleasure :
We will therefore
For evermore
Sing Alleluia more and more. Amen.

Editor's Note:

Dr. John Julian, in his Dictionary of Hymnology, wrote that this hymn was originally published in A. R. Reinagle's Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, Oxford, 1840, p. 134 (which I have been unable to locate). However, wrote Dr. Julian, it was considerably altered in the Salisbury Hymn Book, 1857, and further altered in Kennedy, Hymnologia Christiana, 1863, and the Sarum Hymnal, 1868.

The difference in Kennedy was a change in the 2nd verse from "Sion" to "Zion," and the end of the third verse:

No vision ever bore,
No ear hath heard before,
Yes, now will we
With holy glee
Renew this strain eternally. Amen.

The difference in the Sarum Hymnal is slight. "Alleluia" is substituted for "Hosanna" in the 2nd verse, and the end of the third verse was changed to:

No vision ever brought,
No ear hath ever caught,
    Such joy and pleasure :
We will therefore
For evermore
Sing Alleluia Thee adore.


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