The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

How Brightly Shines the Morning Star

For Epiphany

Words: Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, Philipp Nicolai, 1597;
Translator: John M. Sloan, 1865

Music: "Nicolai" by Philip Nicolai, 1599
Meter: 887 887 84 48

Source: Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon, eds., Hymns of the Kingdom of God. New York: The A. S. Barnes Company, 1910, #105.

1. How brightly shines the Morning Star!
What ray divine streams from afar!
    God's glory there is shining.
Bright beam of God, which scatters night,
And guides the wandering soul aright,
    Which after truth is pining!
        Jesus, God's Word, truth revealing,
        Sorrow healing. Sooth our sighing,
        Dry our tears, and end our dying.

2. My comfort here, my joy above,
Man's Son, Son of the Father's love,
    Enthroned in highest heaven.
With my whole heart Thy praise I sing;
To Thee, our Prophet, Priest and King,
    Be endless honors given.
        Saviour, To Thee, trusting, clinging,
        Come I bringing Soul and spirit,
        Thee, my portion, to inherit.

3. Aid me, my God, to sing Thy praise,
Thine ageless love, Thy matchless grace,
    In Christ, our Lord, appearing.
When such a gift God gave for thee,
When such a brother true is He,
    Why still my soul be fearing?
        Choose Him, know Him, greatest, dearest,
        Best and nearest, To befriend thee
        'Gainst all foes who may offend thee.

Additional verses according to Charles Seymore Robinson, Annotations Upon Popular Hymns (New York: Hunt & Eaton, 1893).

4. To him who conquered death and hell,
To him let joyous anthems swell
    Throughout heaven's great for ever.
Praise to the Lamb that once was slain,
Glory to him who bore our pain,
    Flow on, an endless riverl
        Earth and heaven—creatures lowly,
        Angels holy—join your voices,
        Till the world with praise rejoices.

5. Rejoice, ye heavens; thou, earth, reply;
With praise, ye sinners, fill the sky,
    For this, his incarnation.
Incarnate God, put forth thy power,
Ride on, ride on, great Conqueror,
    Till all know thy salvation.
        Amen, amen: hallelujah!
        Hallelujah! praise be given
        Evermore by earth and heaven!

According to Robinson, this hymn originally appeared in John Hood Wilson, The Service of Praise, 1865. There were no copies at either Google Books or the Internet Archive on May 20, 2012. Robinson adds:

Rev. John Morrison Sloan, M. A., son of a Scotch farmer, was born in Ayrshire, May 19, 1835, and studied at the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Erlangen, Germany, graduating at Edinburgh in 1859. Five years later he became collegiate minister of the Free Church in Dalkeith, and afterward was settled over Free Churches in Aberdeen and Glasgow; he is at present a pastor in Edinburgh.

He has made several translations from the German, the most widely known being the one given above. This was published in Wilson's Service of Praise, 1865. It is a version of the German hymn beginning, "Wie herrlich strahlt der Morgenstern." The original was first given to the public in 1766, and was entitled, "Longing After Union with Jesus, on the Model of the old hymn, ' Wie schon leuhtet der Morgenstern.'" This last is the well-known composition of Philipp Nicolai.

There are a large number of translations of this beautiful hymn. See the notes under Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern.

Sheet Music "Nicolai" by Philip Nicolai, 1599, from Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon, eds., Hymns of the Kingdom of God. New York: The A. S. Barnes Company, 1910, #105.

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