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Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on November 21, 2022 at 11:05 AM

Advent is here, and with it are reminders in the readings and the music to “rejoice”, “wake” and “stay alert”. It is a time of preparation and anticipation as the scriptures foreshadow the Messiah’s arrival, both in his human birth and his second coming as conquering King of all kings. On the first Sunday of Advent (11/27), the closing hymn will be Hymn # 61: “Sleepers, Wake!” A Voice Astounds Us. Although this melody is associated most closely with Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) because of his famous Cantata that uses this tune, the melody itself was written by Hans Sachs (1494-1576) who was born almost two hundred years before Bach. It was later adapted by Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), and, then, arranged and harmonized by J.S. Bach. That is the lineage of the music for this hymn. As for the words- originally written by Philipp Nicolai- they, too, made a journey of sorts before appearing as they do in our hymnal, The Hymnal 1982. The original text by Nicolai was translated from the German by the well-known American theologian, author, hymn writer (and Episcopal priest), The Rev. Carl P. Daw, Jr. So, as you can see, the journey of this one hymn in our hymnal was truly a ‘team effort’ in its creation. Below are the words of the first stanza of this hymn. I pray that you have a blessed Advent journey as we look forward to celebrating Christ’s birth, and anticipating the arrival of his eternal kingdom.

 

Peace,

John

 

“Sleepers, Wake!” A Voice Astounds Us

 

“Sleepers, wake!” a voice astounds us,
the shout of rampart guards surrounds us:
“Awake, Jerusalem, arise!”
Midnight’s peace their cry has broken,
their urgent summons clearly spoken:
“The time has come, O maidens wise!
Rise up, and give us light;
the Bridegroom is in sight.
Alleluia!
Your lamps prepare and hasten there,

that you the wedding feast may share.”

 

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