The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Behold the Bridegroom Cometh

For Advent, For Christmas, For Second Advent

Words: 8th Century Greek, Ἰδοὺ ὁ Νυμφιὸς ἔρχεται ἐν τῷ μέσῳ τῆς νυκτός,
from the Ferial Midnight Office of the Greek Church

Translation by Rev. Gerard Moultrie, 1867
Compare: Behold the Bridegroom Cometh - Brownlie
Behold the Bridegroom Draweth Nigh - Moorsom

Source: Rev. Gerald A. Moultrie, Hymns and Lyrics for the Seasons and Saints' Days of the Church (London: Joseph Masters, 1867), pp. 18-19. Rev. Moultrie identified the song as the “Midnight Hymn of the Eastern Church,” but gave no further details. He gives four verses.

Music: Kingsfold,
MIDI / Noteworthy Composerr / PDF
Second Mode Melody
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF
Meter: CMD

1. Behold the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night,
And blessed is he whose loins are girt, whose lamp is burning bright;
But woe to that dull servant, whom the Master shall surprise
With lamp untrimmed, unburning, and with slumber in his eyes.

2. Do thou, my soul, beware, beware, lest thou in sleep sink down,
Lest thou be given o'er to death, and lose the golden crown;
But see that thou be sober, with a watchful eye, and thus
Cry — "Holy, holy, holy God, have mercy upon us."

3. That day, the day of fear, shall come; my soul, slack not thy toil,
But light thy lamp, and feed it well, and make it bright with oil;
Who knowest not how soon may sound the cry at eventide,
"Behold the Bridegroom comes! Arise! Go forth to meet the bride."

4. Beware, my soul; beware, beware, lest thou in slumber lie,
And, like the Five, remain without, and knock, and vainly cry;
But watch, and bear thy lamp undimmed, and Christ shall gird thee on
His own bright wedding-robe of light — the glory of the Son.

Sheet Music to "Midnight Call" by G. A. Macfarren from Charles H. Richards, ed., Christian Praise: A Manual of Worship for Public, Social and Private Devotion (New York: Taintor Brothers, Merrill & Co. 1880), #579, p.310; Meter: 14s.

behold_the_bridegroom-579.jpg (159844 bytes)

Sheet Music "Macfarren" by G. A. Macfarren from Chas. S. Robinson, ed., Laudes Domini (New York: The Century Co., 1887), p. 453; Meter: 14s.

behold_the_bridegroom-p_453.jpg (142288 bytes)

Properly, the name of the tune is "Midnight Call," but it is sometimes shortened to "Midnight."

Sheet music of  "Asaph" by J. M. Geornovichi (1745-1804) from W. Howard Doane and E. H. Johnson, eds., The Baptist Hymnal (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1883), #653, p. 332; Meter CMD.

behold_the_bridegroom-653-p332.jpg (157751 bytes)

Sheet music "Trask" from  John B. Thompson, et al, eds., of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, Hymns of the Church (New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1869, 1873), p. 349; Meter: 14s.

behold_the_bridegroom-811-p349.jpg (92003 bytes)

Editor's Note:

This hymn has been set to quite a good number of tunes, of which the above three are but a sampling. The most frequent that I've observed is Macfarren's "Midnight Call."

Dr. Julian noted in his Dictionary of Hymnology, p. 561:

Iδού ο Nύμφιος έρχεται. [Midnight] This midnight hymn of the Eastern Church is taken from the Ferial Midnight Office of the Greek Church, where it is given at the beginning of the Horologion. The translation "Behold the Bridegroom cometh," by Gerald Moultrie, was published in Lyra Messianica, 1864, p. 50; and again in Moultrie's Hymns and Lyrics, 1867, p. 18. It was brought into congregational use through the People's Hymnal, 1867. It is in extensive use in America. J.J.

Other translations are by Brownlie and Moorsom.

The following note is from Philip Schaff, Christ in Song (Anson D. F. Randolph, 1869), p. 19.

For the received text, Matt. xxv. 1: “to meet the bridegroom.” But there is another reading in Greek: “to meet the bridegroom and the bride” (the Church). It was a custom among the Jews and Greeks that the bridegroom, accompanied by his friends, went to the house of the bride, to lead her to his own home; and, on his returning with her, he was joined by the virgins, the friends of the bride.

This is one of many hymns inspired by the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Matthew 25:1-13. Others include:

See: Christmas-tide Hymns from the Eastern Churches.

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