Sleepers, Awake!

To me, nothing says Advent like Bach’s Cantata 140. Although written to be performed at a Lutheran Church service right before Advent (the 27th Sunday after Easter, when the Gospel reading is the Parable of the Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins), it’s the perfect reflection on the beginning of Advent for us. See if you agree. Here’s a wonderful performance by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir.

One of the YouTube comments says of this piece: “When you hear this, life stops for a moment and you realize there is some small redemption for humankind. … Because this is a small part of what heaven might be.”

The structure of this Cantata is a perfect dramatic depiction of the individual soul’s longing for Christ and the fulfillment of his coming as the Lover. Here are the movements and text, with timings for this performance:

0:09 I – Chorale – Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

Awake, calls the voice 
of the watchmen high up in the tower; 
awake, you city of Jerusalem. 
Midnight the hour is named; 
they call to us with bright voices; 
where are you, wise virgins? 
Indeed, the Bridegroom comes; 
rise up and take your lamps, 
Alleluia! 
Make yourselves ready 
for the wedding. 

7:00 II – Recitative (Tenor)- Er kommt

He comes, He comes, 
the Bridegroom comes, 
O Zion’s daughters, come out, 
his course runs from the heights 
into your mother’s house. 
The Bridegroom comes, who likes a roe 
and young stag 
leaps upon the hills; 
to you He brings the wedding feast. 
Rise up, take heart, 
to embrace the bridegroom; 
there, look, he comes this way.

7:50 III – Aria (Soprano & Bass Duet)  – Wann kommst du, mein Heil?

(Dialogue between the Soul and Jesus)
When Will You Come, My Savior?

  – I come, as your helping. – 
I wait with burning oil. 
Now open the hall 
  – I open the hall – 
for the heavenly meal. 
Come, Jesus! 
  – I come, come, lovely soul! –

13:33 IV – Chorale – Zion hört die Wächter singen

Zion hears the watchmen sing, 
her heart leaps for joy in her, 
she wakes and hastily arises. 
Her glorious Friend comes from heaven, 
strong in mercy, powerful in truth, 
her light becomes bright, her star rises. 
Now come, precious crown, 
Lord Jesus, the Son of God! 
Hosanna! 
We all follow 
the hall of joy 
and hold the evening meal together.

17:12 V – Recitative (Bass) – So geh herein zu mir

So come unto Me, 
you My chosen bride! 
I have to you 
eternally betrothed Myself. 
I want to set you upon my heart, 
upon My arm as a seal, 
and delight your troubled eye. 
Forget, O soul, now 
the fear, the pain 
which you have had to suffer; 
upon My left hand you will rest, 
and My right hand shall kiss you.

18:35 VI – Aria (Soprano & Bass Duet) – Mein Freund ist mein!

(Dialogue between the Soul and Jesus)
My Friend is mine, 
  – and I am yours, – 
love will never part us. 
I want with 
  you – 
graze among heaven’s roses, 
where complete pleasure and delight will be.

24:26 VII – Chorale – Gloria sei dir gesungen

Let Gloria be sung to you 
with mortal and angelic tongues, 
harps and even with cymbals. 
Of twelve pearls the portals are made, 
in your city, we are companions
the angels high around your throne. 
No eye has ever perceived, 
no ear has ever heard 
such joy 
like our happiness 
io, io, 
eternally in dulci jubilo !

One thought on “Sleepers, Awake!

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  1. Thank you, Father Tom. Hope you are well. Best wishes and prayers, Anastasija

    From: The Pilgrim Shepherd To: a.pologar@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, December 4, 2017 11:08 AM Subject: [New post] Sleepers, Awake! #yiv8166291443 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv8166291443 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv8166291443 a.yiv8166291443primaryactionlink:link, #yiv8166291443 a.yiv8166291443primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv8166291443 a.yiv8166291443primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv8166291443 a.yiv8166291443primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv8166291443 WordPress.com | Fr. Tom Welbers posted: “To me, nothing says Advent like Bach’s Cantata 140. Although written to be performed at a Lutheran Church service right before Advent (the 27th Sunday after Easter, when the Gospel reading is the Parable of the Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins), it’s th” | |

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