Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away. Luke 21:33
Words: Johann Rist, Neuer Himmlische Lieder sonderbahres Buch (Lüneburg: 1651), page 248 (Wach auf, wach auf, du sichre Welt). Translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, Chorale Book for England (London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts and Green, 1863), number 27.
Awake, thou careless world, awake!
That final judgment day will surely come;
What Heav’n hath fixed time cannot shake,
Time never more shall sweep away thy doom.
Know, what the Lord Himself hath spoken
Shall come at last and not delay:
Though Heav’n and earth shall pass away,
His steadfast Word can ne’er be broken.
Awake! He comes to judgment, wake!
Sinners, behold His countenance
In beauty terrible, and quake
Condemned beneath His piercing glance.
Lo! He to whom all power is given,
Who sits at God’s right hand on high,
In fire and thunder draweth nigh,
To judge all nations under Heaven.
Awake! thou careless world, awake!
For none can tell how soon our God shall please
That suddenly that day should break?
No human wisdom fathoms depths like these.
O guard thee well from lust and greed;
For as the bird is in the snare,
Or ever of its foe aware,
So comes that day with silent speed.
Yet He in love delayeth long
The final day, and grants us space
To turn away from sin and wrong,
And mourning seek in time His help and grace.
He holdeth back that best of days,
Until the righteous shall approve
Their faith and hope, their constant love;
So gentle us-ward are His ways!
But ye, O faithful souls, shall see
That morning rise in love and joy,
Your Savior comes to set you free,
Your judge shall all your bonds destroy:
He, the true Joshua, then shall bring
His people with a mighty hand
Into their promised father-land,
Where songs of victory they shall sing.
Rejoice! the fig tree shows her green,
The springing year is in its prime,
The little flowers afresh are seen,
We gather strength in this great time;
The glorious summer draweth near,
When all this body’s earthly load,
In light that morning sheds abroad,
Shall was as sunshine pure and clear.
Arise, and let us night and day
Watch for our Lord, and study o’er His Word,
And in the Spirit ever pray,
That we be ready when His call is heard;
Arise, and let us haste to meet
The Bridegroom standing at the door,
That with the angels evermore
We too may worship at His feet.