The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

What Is That Which Shines Afar

On The Epiphany: At The First Vespers.

There shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in Him shall the Gentiles trust.—Rom. Xt. 

Words: Quć stella sole pulchrior, Charles Coffin (1676-1749), Paris Breviary, 1736

Source: Isaac Williams, Hymns Translated from the Parisian Breviary (London: J.G.F. & J. Rivington, 1839), pp. 81-82.

    What is that which shines afar, 
    Fairer than the sun at morn? 
        'Tis a glorious star, 
    Which a rising King doth harbinger, 
And marks a cradle low where God on earth is born. 
    Faithful spake ye, seers of old, 
        From Jacob doth a Star arise, 
    The East is stirred to behold. 
A little star keeps watch without, 
        'Tis let down from the skies; 
    But a nobler Star within 
        Doth its march begin, 
    Which, on their distant rout, 
To Him with gentle power doth lead the Wise. 
    The toil and perils what are they? 
    Faithful love knows no delay: 
Kindred, and home, and country hold not them; 
    'Tis God that calls, and they obey.
        Star of Bethlehem, 
    Star of Grace, that lead'st the way, 
    Let not the mists of our dark soul 
Obstruct Thy heavenly light, and guiding soft control. 
        Father, Light of lights, to Thee, 
    To Holy Spirit, and to Son, 
    In whom Thou to the world hast shone, 
        Everlasting glory be!

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