Posts tagged ‘Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme’

November 29, 2015

2015-11-29 Notes from the Bench

Wachet auf! — Sleepers Wake by Philipp Nicolai

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate


Today’s Gospel hymn at the 11:00 am service, “Sleepers, wake!” speaks to a call of preparation and attentiveness. This hymn, also commonly known by its original German title, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake, a voice calls to us), is considered by many to be one of the all-time great German chorales. The text and music were written by Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), a Lutheran pastor in Unna, Westphalia, a region in western Germany. Nicolai contemplated the doctrines of Eternal Life through the Blood of Christ and wrote the original German text as part of a series of daily mediations which were published in 1599. As Nicolai composed the music, he may have been inspired by the work of Hans Sachs (1494-1576). The melody Wachet auf quotes or is a possible adaptation of the melody Silberweise composed by Sachs c. 1513.

Today, the First Sunday of Advent, we begin the new liturgical year not by reflecting on past events, but looking forward toward the end times and the ultimate destiny of humanity. We are called to spiritually prepare for the second coming of Christ and the fulfillment of God’s plan. In today’s gospel lesson, Jesus warns his disciples to “be on guard … be alert at all times.”



read more »