Scripture Verse

The chief priests…gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, You are to say, His disciples came during the night and stole Him away while we were asleep. Matthew 28:12–13

Introduction

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Watch over the Tomb
James Tissot
1836–1902

Words & Mu­sic: John H. Hop­kins, Jr., Ca­rols, Hymns and Songs (New York: Church Book De­po­si­to­ry, 1863), pag­es 27–29 (🔊 pdf nwc). The Ro­man Soldier’s part is set in the G clef for the con­ven­ience of child­ren; but it is much bet­ter when sung by a man, an oc­tave be­low.

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Lyrics

Children

Roman soldier, tell us true,
What sort of a watch on guard are you?
The sepulcher, sealèd safe at night,
How came it empty at morning light?

Roman Soldier

Why, Peter and Andrew, James and John,
They came by night, removed the stone,
And long before the break of day,
They stole His body far away.

Children

Fie, old Roman, why tell a lie?

Refrain

For Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, Amen.

Children

Roman soldier, tell us, then,
Why slew you not those thieving men?
Were a few unarmèd Jews too hard
For a veteran, mail clad Roman guard?

Roman Soldier

O no! you Jews we never fear;
But we had no chance for sword or spear,
For up so softly did they creep,
While we were all of us fast asleep.

Children

Fie, old Roman, why tell a lie?

Refrain

Children

Roman soldier, if you were
All fast asleep, as you declare,
How could you know, or see, or say,
Who ’twas that stole the Lord away?

Roman Soldier

Old Annas and Caiaphas told me so;
The truth they wished that one should know;
They gave me, therefore, silver and gold,
To tell the story I have told.

Children

Fie, old Roman, why tell a lie?

Refrain

Children

Roman soldier, tell no more
The stories you have told before—
Too foolish to deceive our youth:
But tell us now the simple truth.

Roman Soldier

An earthquake rolled the stone away;
Half dead with fear we Romans lay:
While, like full sunrise at midnight,
Christ rose, and glided from our sight.

Children

Fie, old Roman, why tell a lie?

Refrain

Children

Roman soldier, your own eyes
Have seen our Lord and God arise;
How can you, now that He is known,
Still worship gods of wood and stone?

Roman Soldier

We Romans conquer where we come;
But Christ hath power to vanquish Rome:
My idols all I cast away—
Christ’s soldier till my dying day!

Children

Right, old Roman, fight for The Light;

Refrain