Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

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Ye watchers and ye holy ones is a popular Christian hymn written by Athelstan Riley (1858–1945). It is sung to the German tune Lasst Uns Erfreuen which also goes by the name Vigiles et Sancti. Its uplifting melody make this a favourite Anglo-Catholic hymn during times of great rejoicing. The first stanza addresses each of the traditional nine choirs of angels, the second stanza focuses on the Blessed Virgin Mary and is based on ancient Eastern Orthodox prayers to Mary,[1] the third urges the holy souls to join in praising God and also urges the patriarchs, prophets, the holy apostles, the martyrs, and All Saints to join in the praise of God. They are addressed in groups similar to those in the Litany of the Saints. The fourth stanza finally addresses the present congregation and all the living to join together in praise. So in this hymn, all three parts of the church, the church triumphant the church expectant and the church militant are addressed because of the traditional belief in the communion of saints.


Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones,
Raise the glad strain, Alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
Virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou bearer of th’eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, raise the song.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


O friends, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


  1. ^ Τὴν τιμιωτέραν τῶν Χερουβεὶμ καὶ ἐνδοξοτέραν ἀσυγκρίτως τῶν Σεραφείμ, τὴν ἀδιαφθόρως Θεὸν Λόγον τεκοῦσαν, τὴν ὄντως Θεοτόκον, σὲ μεγαλύνομεν. Axion Estin.

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