Sunday, December 5, 2010

Promised Day of Israel

We continue the Advent theme of anticipation today with a text by John Bowring, constructed as a dialogue between two people looking for the coming reign of God. The first line is derived from Isaiah 21:11 (Sentinel, what of the night?), and the sentinel responds with good news of the coming morning.

Bowring's hymn has sometimes been sung antiphonally, with different groups taking the "role" of the watcher or the traveler and singing different halves of each stanza.

Watcher, tell us of the night,
What its signs of promise are.
Trav'ler, o’er yon mountain’s height,
See that glory-beaming star.
Watcher, does its beauteous ray
News of joy or hope foretell?
Trav'ler, yes -— it brings the day,
Promised day of Israel.

Watcher, tell us of the night;
Higher yet that star ascends.
Trav'ler, blessedness and light,
Peace and truth its course portends.
Watcher, will its beams alone
Gild the spot that gave them birth?
Trav'ler, ages are its own;
Lo, it bursts o’er all the earth.

Watcher, tell us of the night,
For the morning seems to dawn.
Trav'ler, shadows takes their flight,
Doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watcher, let your wanderings cease;
Hasten to your quiet home.
Trav'ler, lo! the Source of Peace,
Lo! the Child of God is come!

John Bowring, 1825; alt.
Joseph Parry, 1875

The tune ABERYSTWYTH, by Joseph Parry, was named for the town in Wales where he was professor of music at the university at the time of its composing. It first appeared in the hymnal Ail LlyfyrTonau ac Emynau (1879) and later in Parry's cantata Ceridwyn.

Two (Liturgical) Years Ago: Comfort, comfort ye my people

Two (Calendar) Years Ago: Christina Georgina Rossetti

One (Liturgical) Year Ago: Hail to you, God's Anointed

One (Calendar) Year Ago: Walter Chalmers Smith

1 comment:

Leland Bryant Ross said...

Well, I still prefer WATCHMAN (Mason). Not sure why.