The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Dawn

First Sunday in Advent

Words: Richter, 1704
Trans. Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)

See: Christmas Poetry of Catherine Winkworth

Source: Lyra Germanica: First Series, Songs for the Household, 1855

The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore castoff the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.     From the Epistle

    O watchman, will the night of sin
        Be never past?
    O watchman, doth the tarrying day being
To dawn upon thy straining sight at last?
        Will it dispel
Ere long the mists of sense wherein I dwell?

    Now all the earth is bright and glad
        With the fresh morn;
    But all my heart is cold and dark and sad:
Sun of the soul, let me behold Thy dawn!
        Come, Jesus, Lord!
Oh quickly come, according to Thy word!

    Do we not live in those blest days
        So long foretold,
    Where Thou shouldst come to bring us light and grace?
And yet I sit in darkness as of old,
        Pining to see
Thy glory; but Thou still art far from me.

    Long since Thou camest for the light
        Of all men here;
    And still in me is nought but blackest night.
Yet Am I Thine, O hasten to appear,
        Shine forth and bless
My soul with vision of thy righteousness!

    If thus in darkness ever left,
        Can I fulfil
    The works of light, while yet of light bereft?
Or how discern in love and meekness still
        To follow Thee,
And all the sinful works of darkness flee?

    The light of reason cannot give
        Life to my soul;
    Jesus alone can make me truly live,
One glance of His can make my spirit whole.
        Arise, and shine,
O Jesus, on this longing heart of mine!

    Single and clear, not weak or blind,
        The eye must be,
    To which Thy glory shall an entrance find;
For if Thy chosen ones would gaze on Thee,
        No earthly screen
Between their souls and Thee must intervene.

    Jesus, do Thou mine eyes unseal,
        And let them grow
    Quick to discern whate'er Thou dost reveal,
So shall I be deliver'd from that woe,
        Blindly to stray
Through hopeless night, while all around is day.

Note: According to Winkworth, selected from Chevalier (Christian Karl Josias) Bunsen (1791-1860), ed., Versuch eines allgemeinen Gesang und Gebetbuchs (1833).

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