|Allerheilegen (All Saints Day) Johann Koenig, 1599|
On All Saints Day, Christians remember the faithful who have passed on to the glorious company of the saints in light. It has been observed since the 4th century after Christ and remains a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church. Over time, the original purpose of All Saints Day changed and, by the Middle Ages, "saints became the objects of prayers and petitions for merit before God." Seeing Christ "as the only source of forgiveness, [Martin Luther] cleansed the church of this abuse of the saints" but retained the holy day in the church calendar. He made his statement by nailing his 95 theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, ensuring that they would be seen by crowds of worshipers the following day. Today, the celebration of the beginning of the Reformation on October 31 sometimes overshadows All Saints Day in the Lutheran Church, but the days are often celebrated concurrently during Sunday worship.
Here is a prayer for today:
Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one Holy church, the body of Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow the example of your blessed saints in lives of faith and willing service and with them at last inherit the inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ our Lord...
And here is William Walsham How's hymn,"For All the Saints," sung to Ralph Vaughan Williams's beloved setting, Sine Nomine.
Another popular piece of music for the day is Johann Sebastian Bach's cantata, Wachet auf, ruft uns de Stimme, BWV 140, also known as Sleepers Awake. The most familiar parts of this composition include the chorale beginning at 14:39 and the chorus at 26:39.
The Youtube post provides this translation:
Wake ye maids! hard, strikes the hour,
The watchman calls high on the tower,
Awake, awake, Jerusalem.
Midnight strikes, hear, hear it sounding,
Loud cries the watch, with call resounding:
Where are ye, o wise virgins, where?
Good cheer, the Bridegroom come,
Arise and take your lamps!
Ye maids beware:
The feast prepare,
So go ye forth to meet Him there.
The Bridegroom comes!
And Zion's daughter shall rejoice,
He hastens to her dwelling claiming
The maiden of his choice.
The Bridegroom comes; as is a roebuck,
Yea, like a lusty mountain roebuck,
Fleet and fair,
His marriage feast he bids you share.
Arise and take your lamps!
In eagerness to greet him;
Come! hasten, sally forth to meet him.
III. Aria (Duet)
[Soul] Come quickly, now come.
[Jesus] Yea quickly I come.
[Soul] We wait thee with lamps all alighted!
The doors open wide,
Come claim me my bride!
[Jesus] The doors open wide,
I claim me my bride.
[Soul] Come quickly!
[Jesus] Forever in rapture united
Zion hears the watchmen calling,
The Faithful hark with joy enthralling,
They rise and haste to greet their Lord.
See, He comes, the Lord victorious,
Almighty, noble, true and glorious,
In Heav'n supreme, on earth adored.
Come now, Thou Holy One,
The Lord Jehovah's Son!
We follow all
The joyful call
To join Him in the Banquet Hall!
So come thou unto me,
My fair and chosen bride,
Thou whom I long to see
Forever by my side.
Within my heart of hearts
Art thou secure by ties that naught can sever,
Where I may cherish thee forever.
Forget, beloved, ev'ry care,
Away with pain and grief and sadness,
For better or for worse to share
Our lives in love and joy and gladness.
VI. Aria (Duet)
[Soul] Thy love is mine,
[Jesus] And I am thine!
[Both] True lovers ne'er are parted.
[Soul] Now I with thee, and thou with me.
[Jesus] In flow'ry field will wander,
[Both] In rapture united forever to be.
Gloria sing all our voices,
With Angels all mankind rejoices,
With harp and strings in sweetest tone.
Twelve bright Pearls adorn Thy Portals,
As Angels round Thy glorious Throne.
No ear has ever heard
The joy we know.
Our praises flow,
To God in dulci jubilo.