There is a one-line introduction.
Who are these like stars appearing,
these before God's throne who stand?
Each a golden crown is wearing;
who are all this glorious band?
Alleluia, hark, they sing,
praising loud their heav'nly King.
Who are these of dazzling brightness,
clothed in God's own righteousness,
these, whose robes of purest whiteness
shall their lustre still possess,
still untouched by time's rude hand -
whence came all this glorious band?
These are they who have contended
for their Saviour's honour long,
wrestling on till life was ended,
following not the sinful throng;
these, who well the fight sustained,
triumph through the Lamb have gained.
These are they whose hearts were riven,
sore with woe and anguish tried,
who in prayer full oft have striven
with the God they glorified;
now, their painful conflict o'er,
God has bid them weep no more.
These, th'Almighty contemplating,
did as priest before him stand,
soul and body, always waiting
day and night at his command:
now, in God's most holy place
blest they stand before his face.
Source: Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New
Translator: Frances Elizabeth Cox
Author: Heinrich Theobald Schenk
Last verse harmonization: Noel Rawsthorne
I dedicate this hymn to David E. Lamb, M.A. F.R.C.O, former assistant organist of Ripon Cathedral, GB. and former organist of Albany Cathedral U.S.A who by example (among much more) teaches us the art of hymn playing.