Gottfried August Homilius (2 February 1714 – 2 June 1785) was a German composer, cantor and organist. He is considered one of the most important church composers of the generation following Bach's, and was the main representative of the empfindsamer style. (The German "empfindsamer stil" seeks to express personal emotions and sensitivity.
Homilius was born in Rosenthal, Saxony, the son of a Lutheran pastor, and was educated at the Annenschule in Dresden. He then studied law at Leipzig University and the organ under Johann Sebastian Bach. From 1742 he was organist at the Dresden Frauenkirche, and from 1755 until his death cantor at the Kreuzkirche in Dresden with the associated responsibility of music director at the Kreuzkirche, the Sophienkirche, and the Frauenkirche. After the destruction of the Kreuzkirche during the Seven Years' War he worked mainly at the Frauenkirche.
Homilius predominantly composed church music: more than 10 passions, an oratorio for Christmas (1777) and one for Easter, over 60 motets, more than 150 cantatas (six arias from these appeared in 1786), chorales, preludes, and choral works.
This setting of "Wachet auf" must surely be a unique one. It sounds sort of like a "marching band" processing through the city, bring the the Bridegroom to the marriage feast.
Homilius must have been thinking of this verse of the text when he composed it:
Wake, awake, for night is flying:
The watchmen on the heights are crying;
Awake, Jerusalem, arise!
Midnight’s solemn hour is tolling,
His chariot wheels are nearer rolling,
He comes; prepare, ye virgins wise.
Rise up; with willing feet
Go forth, the Bridegroom meet:
Bare through the night your well-trimmed light,
Speed forth to join the marriage rite.
This upload shows a canon between the reeds of the pedal, and the Trompete, Principals and Cornett of the Hauptwerk.
The score and a drawing of Homilius attached below.