09 November 2008

Evensong for Pentecost XXVI -- Bach and the BBC

When I was a wee lad, the gospel for today was part of Advent -- usually the First Sunday of Advent. I was always shocked by the poor stupid virgins who didn't know how to tend a lamp and keep the wick trimmed and the reservoir filled with oil. We frequently had power outages in the winter and if we didn't take care of the kerosene lamps, we'd be in the dark -- literally. But, I always love the great German hymn, "Wachet Auf!" which we sang on that Sunday.

Today's evensong is Bach's great arrangement of the hymn from Cantata 140. And below the clip are the lyrics for the Bach challenged among us. Evensong from the BBC, recorded in Canterbury Cathedral, is here.

1. Slumberers, wake, the Bridegroom cometh!
Awake, behold the Bridegroom cometh!
Ye Virgins, wake, to sleep no more.
Midnight hears the shouting voices,
And at the thrilling cry rejoices;
Your lamps now trim, so bright of yore.
Th' advancing train draws nigh;
Lights flash, and bridemen cry:
Sing ye also,
And forth to meet the Bridegroom go!

2. Zion hears the exultant singing,
And all her heart with joy is springing,
She wakes, she rises from her gloom;
For her Spouse comes down all-glorious,
The Strong in Grace, in Truth Victorious,
Her Star is risen, her Light is come!
Haste then, ye Virgins fair,
His marriage-feast to share,
Ye too shall sing
As we go forth to meet your King.

3. Lamb of God! The heavens adore Thee,
And men and angels sing before Thee,
With harp and cymbals' clearest tone.
Of one pearl each open portal,
Where we are with the choirs immortal,
That stand around the great white Throne.
Ten thousand thousand tongues
There pour triumphal songs
Chanting their hymn,
With Cherubim and Seraphim.

4. Lo! the Bride, fair as the morning,
The royal crown her brow adorning, —
With fine wrought gold her bright robes shine.
On her breast are jewels gleaming;
In sevenfold light her beauty beaming
Bids welcome to her Spouse divine.
Round Him, in raiment white,
Sing all the saints in light,
On that blest shore
Rolls evermore and evermore. Amen.