Musical Advent Calendar – Day 9

“Zion hears her watchman’s voices” – “Wachet auf!”

The piece of music for today is a perennial favorite for many folks. The fourth movement from Bach’s cantata Wachet auf! Ruft uns die stimme, BWV140, based on the tune of the same name, known to us as “Sleepers, wake! A voice astounds us” (UMH 720). The text is based on the parable of the wise and the foolish virgins from Matthew, chapter 25, which we heard several weeks ago, as well as on Romans chapter 13:

“Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light . . .” (vs. 11-12)

There is also a famous organ transcription of this movement, featuring the same stately chorale melody composed by Philipp Nicolai in 1599 and the lilting countermelody composed a century later by J.S. Bach, which is a yearly staple of Advent repertoire for many an organist. Today, though, the chorale melody is sung for us by MLUMC staff soloist Kirby Dilworth, and the accompaniment on pedal harpsichord. I hope you’ll enjoy this beautifully sung setting of this great and timeless composition.

O come, in splendour bright, Lord Jesu, Light of Light – Hosianna!
We follow thee, thy joy to see, where everlasting bliss shall be.

 Mitchell Stecker, Director of Music