Say, watchman, what of the night? (Arthur Sullivan)

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  • (Posted 2010-07-20)  CPDL #21989:         
Editor: James Gibb (submitted 2010-07-20).   Score information: A4, 6 pages, 183 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Transposed a tone higher to G. A, T and B lines split into separate staves for clarity, wherever they are not moving in sync. Revised files uploaded 6/4/21.
  • (Posted 2002-04-07)  CPDL #03504:  Network.png
Editor: Paul Howarth (submitted 2002-04-07).   Score information: A4, 8 pages, 587 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: From the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive.

General Information

Title: Say, Watchman, What of the Night?
Composer: Arthur Sullivan
Source of text: Isaiah 21:11

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB, with divisi in all parts
Genre: SacredAnthem

Language: English
Instruments: Organ (mostly colla parte)

First published: 1871
Description: according to the composer's footnote intended to be sung in F#, but notated a semitone lower for convenience.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Say, watchman, what of the night?
Do the dews of the morning fall?
Have the orient skies a border of light,
Like the fringe of a fun'ral pall?

The night is fast waning on high,
And soon shall the darkness flee;
And the morn shall spread o'er the blushing sky,
And bright shall its glories be.

But, watchman, what of the night,
When sorrow and pain are mine,
And the pleasures of life, so sweet and bright,
No longer around me shine?

That night of sorrow thy soul
May surely prepare to meet;
But away shall the clouds of thy heaviness roll,
And the morning of joy be sweet.

But, watchman, what of the night,
When the arrow of death is sped,
And the grave, which no glimm'ring star can light,
Shall be my sleeping bed?

That night is near, and the cheerless tomb
Shall keep thy body in store
Till the morn of eternity rise on the gloom,
And night shall be no more.