a hymn: WATCHMAN, TELL US OF THE NIGHT

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

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.

Watchman, tell us of the night,
For the morning seems to dawn.
Traveler, darkness takes its flight,
Doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watchman, let thy wanderings cease;
Hie thee to thy quiet home.
Traveler, lo! the Prince of Peace,
Lo! the Son of God is come!

Words: John Bow­ring, Hymns: As a Se­quel to Ma­tins, 1825.

Music: Watch­man, Low­ell Ma­son, The Bos­ton Han­del and Hay­dn So­ci­e­ty Col­lect­ion of Church Mu­sic, 10th edi­tion, 1831 (MI­DI, score).

“This hymn evokes a vi­vid child­hood mem­o­ry. Two men with deep, so­nor­ous voic­es sang this song at the Christ­mas Eve mid­night ser­vice each year as long as we can re­mem­ber. The church was dark, the watch­man’s and tra­vel­er’s two lan­terns giv­ing the on­ly light in a hushed sanc­tu­a­ry. The watch­man stood at the al­tar, and the tra­vel­er slow­ly made his way down the aisle, as the two sang the quest­ion-re­ply vers­es to each other. It was hard to miss the sym­bol­ism of the lone­ly tra­vel­er mak­ing his way to the One Who sheds light on a dark world.” (http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/w/a/watchman.htm)

Mason showed an in­tense in­ter­est in mu­sic from child­hood. He lived in Sa­van­nah, Georgia, for 15 years, work­ing as a bank clerk, but pur­suing his true love—mu­sic—on the side…Low­ell Ma­son wrote over 1,600 re­li­gious works, and is of­ten called the “fa­ther of Amer­i­can church music.”

mason_l2

At age 33, Bowring be­came ed­it­or of the West­min­ster Re­view. An ac­comp­lished lin­guist, it has been said he was flu­ent in over 20 lan­guages and could speak 80 more; he was known for his trans­la­tions of Dutch po­e­try. He was al­so one of the pre­em­i­nent Brit­ish states­men of his day.

bowring

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