1 Watchman, tell us of the night,
what its signs of promise are.
Traveler, what a wondrous sight:
see that glory-beaming star.
Watchman, does its beauteous ray
news of joy or hope foretell?
Traveler, yes; it brings the day,
promised day of Israel.
2 Watchman, tell us of the night;
higher yet that star ascends.
Traveler, blessedness and light,
peace and truth its course portends.
Watchman, will its beams alone
gild the spot that gave them birth?
Traveler, ages are its own;
see, it bursts o’er all the earth.
3 Watchman, tell us of the night,
for the morning seems to dawn.
Traveler, shadows take their flight;
doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watchman, you may go your way;
hasten to your quiet home.
Traveler, we rejoice today,
for Emmanuel has come!
|First Line:||Watchman, tell us of the night|
|Title:||Watchman, Tell Us of the Night|
|Author:||John Bowring (1825, alt.)|
|Scripture:||Isaiah 21:11-12; Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 52:8; Isaiah 60:1-3; Romans 13:12|
|Topic:||Jesus Christ: Advent|
|Composer:||Joseph Parry (1876)|
|Key:||d minor or modal|
|Notes:||*May be sung antiphonally.|
This unusual dialogue hymn alternates between the voice of a traveler and that of a watchman, setting up an exchange that creates parallels between the coming of dawn and the birth of Christ.
The tune is named for a Welsh town whose name means “mouth of the bending river.”
|Audio recording:||Audio (MP3)|