Scripture Verse

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

Introduction

illustration
Virgins with Lamps

Words: An­cient La­tin. The earl­i­est known in­stanc­es are slight­ly var­ied forms in a man­u­script, cir­ca 890 (Me­di­ae Noc­tis Tem­po­re), in the Bod­lei­an Lib­ra­ry, Ox­ford, where it is tit­led A Hymn at Noc­turns on Sun­days.

In an 11th Cen­tu­ry Mo­za­rab­ic Hym­nar­i­um in the Bri­tish Mu­seum, the text is giv­en as the se­cond part of a long hymn which be­gins Je­su de­fen­sor om­ni­um (Ju­li­an, p. 722). Will­iam J. Blew trans­lat­ed this ver­sion in The Church Hymn and Tune Book (Lon­don: Fran­cis & John Riv­ing­ton, 1852), Ad­vent sec­tion, num­ber 12, as shown in the Eng­lish text below.

Music: St. Ce­le­do­ni­us The Church Hymn and Tune Book, 1852 (🔊 pdf nwc).

If you know where to get a good pho­to of Blew (head-and-shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els), would you ?

Lyrics

Jesu, our captain and our king,
Adorable Defender;
Now comes the night on ebon wing,
And us to sleep we render.
Still rest we, Jesu, in Thy name,
Our keeper and our guard;
And wakeful thus in spirit claim
The watcher’s blest reward.

At noon of night, by Gospel voice
The Bridegroom is proclaimed;
He comes, in Him let all rejoice
By whom Heav’n’s realm is framèd.

Forth haste the holy maiden bands,
To meet His coming state;
Bearing their bright lamps in their hands
Joying with gladness great.

The foolish bide the gate before,
And hold their lamps long quenchèd;
Smiting in vain that palace door,
Whose bolts will ne’er be wrenchèd.
Then watch we and in spirit stand
With panoply complete;
That we, when Christ shall be at hand,
Go forth our Lord to greet.

At noon of night its warning thus
Doth voice of seer deliver;
Be praise unto the Lord from us—
To Sire and Son forever.
And to the Holy Ghost be praise;
For perfect Trinity,
Of substance one, by us always
Shall be praised and lauded be.