Scripture Verse

At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Matthew 25:6


Martha E. Pettus

Words: Mar­tha E. Pet­tus, The Way­side Shrine (Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts: Sher­man, French, 1914), pag­es 90–93.

Music: Horn­sey Sam­uel S. Wes­ley, The Eu­ro­pe­an Psalm­ist 1872 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

If you know where to get a bet­ter pho­to of Pet­tus,

Virgins with Lamps


Who is sleep­ing? Who is watch­ing?
Who the mar­riage feast shall miss?
Would your lamps have e’er been light­ed
But for this?

But for this, the mar­riage sup­per;
Mystic, glow­ing, won­drous hour—
When the mid­night blooms, all gold­en
Like a flow­er?

Hark, a voice up­on the mid­night;
Lo, the Bride­groom’s draw­ing near;
Take your lamps, and haste to meet Him—
He is here.

Hasten, fold your white veils ’round you;
Hold your lamps aloft, alight—
Let their shin­ing bid Him wel­come
Through the night!

Swift the bless­èd ranks are fill­ing;
In the midst His face is seen;
Yet a cry of de­so­la­tion
Sweeps be­tween!

Can such sor­row, such la­ment­ing,
Blot out joy on such a night?
Who can stand here, idle, dream­ing,
And—no light?

Darkened lamps! Yet once their beam­ing,
Each through sha­dow, shone a star:
All were sleep­ing; but the wak­ing,
Different far.

Lamps gone out? Ah, vows were brok­en,
Vows re­cord­ed, sealed above:
Darkened lamps! Sad, si­lent to­ken
Of dead love!

Now, ’tis all in vain, their seek­ing
His dear pre­sence ev­er­more;
Shut in, now, the mar­riage splen­dor—
Closed the door.

Shut in, bless­èd ones; the rap­tured
Hidden ones—His own, His bride:
Only mid­night for the weep­ing
Shut out­side.

Shall the Bride­groom’s com­ing find us
In that hour, con­vict­ed, dumb?
In that hour, the hour you think not,
He will come.

We are go­ing forth to meet Him,
Christ the ris­en, glo­ri­fied;
Oh! to meet Him, when He com­eth
For His bride!

Ever deep­er fall the sha­dows,
Ere that so­lemn mid­night cry;
Waiting, shin­ing, are we rea­dy—
You and I?

Ready for the mar­riage glo­ry,
Joy of harp, and flow­er, and song;
In the pre­sence of the an­gels
Where they throng.

Closed the doors, their sec­ret keep­ing—
Who shall tell the bliss with­in?
But that sec­ret, faith­ful spi­rit,
You shall win.

Let your life shine out—a bea­con
Lest some oth­er life be lost;
Thou art won, but by His dy­ing—
Priceless cost!

Watch! Oh, keep your lamp still burn­ing:
Heart and hand and love em­ploy,
Till He bids you en­ter, shar­ing
In His joy!

Shining through life’s deep­en­ing shadows,
Ere that so­lemn mid­night cry;
Are we rea­dy for His com­ing—
You and I?