Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

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General information

This hymn of Philipp Nicolai appeared in the same collection as his other famous hymn Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, 1599. Again the poet is also considered to be the composer of the melody. Amongst the many choral settings of this hymn the musical cantata setting (BWV 140) by Johann Sebastian Bach is especially famous.

Settings of the hymn on CPDL

Text and translations

German.png German text

(Philipp Nicolai, 1599)

1  Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme
Der Wächter sehr hoch auf der Zinne,
Wach auf, du Stadt Jerusalem!
Mitternacht heißt diese Stunde,
Sie rufen uns mit hellem Munde:
Wo seid ihr klugen Jungfrauen?
Wohlauf, der Bräut'gam kömmt,
Steht auf, die Lampen nehmt!
Macht euch bereit zu der Hochzeit,
Ihr müßet ihm entgegengehn!

2  Zion hört die Wächter singen,
Das Herz tut ihr vor Freuden springen,
Sie wachet und steht eilend auf.
Ihr Freund kommt vom Himmel prächtig,
Von Gnaden stark, von Wahrheit mächtig,
Ihr Licht wird hell, ihr Stern geht auf.
Nun komm, du werte Kron',
Herr Jesu, Gottes Sohn!
Wir folgen all' zum Freudensaal
Und halten mit das Abendmahl.

3  Gloria sei dir gesungen
Mit Menschen- und mit Engelszungen,
Mit Harfen und mit Zimbeln schon.
Von zwölf Perlen sind die Pforten
An deiner Stadt, wir sind Konsorten
Der Engel hoch um deinen Thron.
Kein Aug hat je gespürt,
Kein Ohr hat mehr gehört
Solche Freude.
Des sind wir froh, i-o, i-o,
Ewig in dulci jubilo.

English.png English translation

(Catherine Winkworth, 1865)

1  Wake, awake, for night is flying,
The watchmen on the heights are crying;
Awake, Jerusalem, at last!
Midnight hears the welcome voices,
And at the thrilling cry rejoices:
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past!
The Bridegroom comes, awake,
Your lamps with gladness take;
And for His marriage feast prepare,
For ye must go to meet Him there.

2  Zion hears the watchmen singing,
And all her heart with joy is springing,
She wakes, she rises from her gloom;
For her Lord comes down all-glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious;
Her Star is risen, her Light is come!
Ah! come, Thou blessed Lord,
O Jesus, Son of God,
We follow till the halls we see
Where Thou hast bid us sup with Thee.

3  Now let all the heavens adore Thee,
And men and angels sing before Thee,
With harp and cymbal’s clearest tone;
Of one pearl each shining portal,
Where we are with the choir immortal
Of angels round Thy dazzling throne;
Nor eye hath seen, nor ear
Hath yet attained to hear
What there is ours,
But we rejoice, and sing to Thee
Our hymn of joy eternally.

English.png English translation

(Frances Elizabeth Cox)

1  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.

2  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.

3  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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