[extract from Crowther Portraiture of Methodism, 2nd Ed 1815 pp282]
It may be proper to give some account of a watch-night. When these are kept according to their original design, and the practice of Mr. Wesley, they do not conclude till midnight. In many places, however, they have of late begun and concluded earlier. A watch-night, that is held till midnight, usually begins about half past eight o'clock. The service consists of a short suitable sermon, and then the rest of the time is occupied in alternate singing and prayer. For this service we have an appropriate set of hymns. However, it is common, in addition to the sermon at the beginning, for some other preacher or preachers, to give a word of exhortation at intervals. These seasons are generally very solemn and impressive.
Johnathan Crowther A Portraiture of Methodism or a History of Wesleyan Methodists (2nd Ed) 1815 London