Rise, My Soul, to Watch and Pray

Hymn of the Month for October

This Pastor's Pen article continues Pastor Cowell's "Hymn of the Month" series in which he shares a brief commentary on the theology and history behind some of the hymns we enjoy singing from the Lutheran Service Book.  The full text of the hymn is included at the bottom of the post.  
While our hymn of the month: Rise, My Soul, to Watch and Pray is listed in the “Church Militant” section of Lutheran Service Book, the hymn would find perhaps an even better fit in the “End Times” category.

The two Scripture references to which the title of the hymn relates the most includes the Parable of the Ten Virgins from Matthew 25, which Jesus concludes by saying: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour (Mt. 25:13).” We can also call to mind Jesus’ words to Peter, James, and John in the Garden of Gethsemane when He says: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Mt. 26:41).”  

As is a common occurrence in the life of a hymn, the original ten stanzas of Rise, My Soul, to Watch and Pray have been condensed down to five in our Lutheran Service Book.  A sad casualty of this abbreviation is the loss of a strong sense of Judgement Day looming behind the hymn’s exhortation to pray and stand watch against the enemies of the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature.  In order to give you a sense of the message the original German hymn proclaimed, I have put into verse the original stanzas 2, 3, and 10 (with translating help from Google Translate, since I am virtually illiterate in the German language!).  Note that in the original the first two stanzas would follow stanza 1 of our English hymn, and stanza 10 would have been last.
If remains the sleep of sin                            
     And your light is darkened,                        
The race of faith you won’t win                  
     When Christ’s judgement hearkens.          
            Hell and death                                                  
            With no rest                                                    
     God commands to follow                            
     Those whose faith is hollow.                        

Wake, instead, and look to Him
     The true light who lightens:
Christ, supplying faith to them
     Who are then enlightened
           To receive
           And not leave
     God’s grace or be taken
     By sin, world, or Satan.

And while praying, know this well:
     Christ comes with direction
At the final trumpet swell
     To give to destruction
           The whole earth,
           And give birth
     To a world unbroken
     Where our eyes keep open.

God be with you as you sing and grow in faith from this hymn of the month!

Used throughout this devotion  is content from Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns, Vol. 1 (CPH: 2019), p. 856-861. The three hymn stanzas translated via Google Translate and put to verse by Pastor Cowell may be freely distributed to the glory of God.
Rise, My Soul, to Watch and Pray, LSB 663

Tune and text: Public domain
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Thomas Cowell