Awake, O Sleeper

Here’s a lightly edited flashback from about 8 years ago, but it came to mind for just the same reason as it did originally. We are in Ephesians 5 this week and the words of Paul brought to mind a song. So I had shared some new music with others via email, and I figured I’d go ahead and share it again via this site, too.

I was doing some readings to prepare for class on Sunday and came across a passage in Ephesians 5 where Paul writes:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

A clear passage that among other instructions tells of the role of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” One verse before this there is a poetic line (at least its formatted as such in many versions):

Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.

These words brought to mind a song that I could hardly remember. I wasn’t sure where I had even heard it, but I finally found it thanks to the gift that is the internet. Not surprisingly, it’s called “Awake, O Sleeper”, by Ike Ndolo. I’d encourage you to open up Ephesians and read through the lyrics and then give it a listen.

It is a powerful image in this chapter of waking up. The distinction between living in the light of Christ and following his ways compared to the old life can be so stark. To Paul it is death to life, or here it like slumber to wakefulness. It is too easy to continue to sleepwalk through life, but we are called to be woken up to the good news of Christ and the power of his Spirit.

Here are two versions, one of Ndolo playing at the start of mass and the other is a choral arrangement.

Awake, O Sleeper – Ike Ndolo

Awake, O Sleeper – Choral Arrangement (over zoom)


In the darkest times of life,
when our lights refuse to shine:
you are there, you are there.

When our hearts become like stone,
when we live without hope:
you are there, you are there.

Don’t let your hearts be troubled;
don’t let your hearts be troubled.

Awake, O sleeper!
Arise from slumber!
Christ is calling your name!

In the midst of life’s decay,
when our lives become like graves:
rescue us, rescue us.
Don’t let your hearts be troubled;
don’t let your hearts be troubled.

Awake! Arise! and follow the light!
Awake! Arise! and follow the light!
Awake! Arise! and follow the light!
Awake! Arise! Christ is calling your name!

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