1 How many pass the guilty night
In revelings and frantic mirth!
The creature is their sole delight,
Their happiness the things of earth;
For us suffice the season past:
We choose the better part at last.
2 We will not close our wakeful eyes,
We will not let our eyelids sleep,
But humbly lift them to the skies,
And all a solemn vigil keep;
So many nights on sin bestowed,
Can we not watch one hour for God!
3 We can, O Jesus, for thy sake,
Devote our every hour to thee;
Speak but the word, our souls shall wake,
And sing with cheerful melody:
Thy praise shall our glad tongues employ
And every heart shall dance for joy.
4 Blest object of our faith and love,
We listen for thy welcome voice;
Our persons and our works approve,
And bid us in thy strength rejoice;
Now let us hear the mighty cry,
And shout to find the Bridegroom nigh.
5 Shout in the midst of us, O King
Of saints, and let our joys abound;
Let us rejoice, give thanks, and sing,
And triumph in redemption found:
We ask in faith for every soul;
O let our glorious joy be full!
6 O may we all triumphant rise;
With joy upon our heads return;
And far above these nether skies,
By thee on eagles’ wings upborne,
Through all yon radiant circles move,
And gain the highest heaven of love.
Charles Wesley, M.A. was the great hymn-writer of the Wesley family, perhaps, taking quantity and quality into consideration, the great hymn-writer of all ages. Charles Wesley was the youngest son and 18th child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, and was born at Epworth Rectory, Dec. 18, 1707. In 1716 he went to Westminster School, being provided with a home and board by his elder brother Samuel, then usher at the school, until 1721, when he was elected King's Scholar, and as such received his board and education free. In 1726 Charles Wesley was elected to a Westminster studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1729, and became a college tutor. In the early part of the same year his religious impressions were much deepene… Go to person page >
How many pass the guilty night. C.Wesley. [Watchnight.] Appeared in Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1742, p. 135, in 6 stanzas of 6 lines as the first of a series of "Hymns for the Watchnight." (Poetical Works, 1868-72, vol. ii. p. 193.) In 1830 it was given in the Supplement to the Wesleyan Hymn Book with alterations, and the omission of stanza iv. This was repeated in the revised edition, 1875. The opening line has undergone several changes, as: "How many pass this guilty night"; "How many pass this solemn night"; and "How many spend the guilty night." The original reading has by far the most extensive use.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
First published in Henri Frederick Hemy's Easy Hymn Tunes for Catholic Schools (1851), STELLA was a folk tune from northern England that Hemy heard sung by children in Stella, a village near Newcastle-upon-Tyme. In modified bar form (AA'B), the tune has an interesting rhythmic structure. Antiphonal…
Display Title: How Many Pass the Guilty NightFirst Line: How many pass the guilty nightTune Title: SELENAAuthor: Charles WesleyMeter: 88.88.88Source: Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1742, page 135, as the first of a series of "Hymns for the Watchnight"