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Sleepers, wake!

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Sleepers, wake!

December 3, 2023

Another [call] of the voice at midnight and of the wise maidens who meet their celestial Bridegroom....  Day by day I wrote out my meditations, found myself, thank God, wonderfully well, comforted in heart, joyful in spirit, and truly content; gave to my manuscript the name and title of a Mirror of leave behind me (if God should call me from this world) as a token of my peaceful, joyful, Christian departure, or (if God should spare me in health) to comfort other sufferers whom He should also visit with the pestilence.

– Preface and introduction to the hymn Wachet auf, ruft uns die stimme, composed in a time of plague by Philipp Nicolai, Frewden Spiegel deß ewigen Lebens (“Mirror of Joy of the Life everlasting”), 1598–99, tr. Raymond F. Glover for The Hymnal 1982 Companion

Sleepers, wake! the watch-cry pealeth,
While slumber deep each eyelid sealeth:
Awake, Jerusalem, awake!
Midnight’s solemn hour is tolling,
And seraph-notes are onward rolling;
They call on us our part to take.
Come forth, ye virgins wise:
The Bridegroom comes, arise.
Each lamp be bright with ready light
To grace the marriage feast to-night.

Zion hears the voice that singeth,
With sudden joy her glad heart springeth,
At once she wakes, she stands arrayed.
See her Light, her Star ascending,
Lo, girt with truth, with mercy blending,
Her Bridegroom there, so long delayed.
All hail, God’s glorious Son,
All hail, our joy and crown,
The joyful call we answer all,
And follow to the bridal hall.

Praise to him who goes before us,
Let men and angels join in chorus,
Let harp and cymbal add their sound.
Twelve the gates, a pearl each portal –
We haste to join the choir immortal
Within the Holy City’s bound.
Ear ne’er heard aught like this,
Nor heart conceived such bliss.
We raise the song, we swell the throng,
To praise thee ages all along.

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