Monday, December 14, 2015

How Bright Appears the Morning Star

I was moved to reflect this past Sunday how incredibly fortunate I am to attend a church that uses an older hymnal. My continuing Anglican church uses the 1940 hymnal. No tuneless "praise songs," no ear-splitting performances. No modernized words. It's a gift.

Advent has some great hymns, many of which were unknown to me in my Baptist upbringing. This is one place where the Anglican tradition has hymns to teach to the Baptists, though hymn-teaching so often goes the other way.

One of my greatest favorites in this category is "How Bright Appears the Morning Star," the translation of Wie Shön Leuchtet der Morgenstern, by Philip Nicolai, but best known in its harmonization by J.S. Bach.

Here are the words:

How bright appears the Morning Star,
with mercy beaming from afar;
the host of heaven rejoices.
O Righteous Branch, O Jesse’s Rod,
thou Son of Man and Son of God!
We too will lift our voices:
Jesus, Jesus, holy, holy, yet most lowly,
draw thou near us; great Emmanuel, come and hear us.

Though circled by the hosts on high,
he deigned to cast a pitying eye
upon his helpless creature.
The whole creation’s head and Lord,
by highest seraphim adored,
assumed our very nature;
Jesus, grant us, through thy merit, to inherit
thy salvation. Hear, O hear our supplication.

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! Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise be given, evermore by earth and heaven.

Here is my earlier post on it. I want to say again what I said there: I defy anyone to be gloomy while belting out, "Incarnate God, put forth thy power. Ride on, ride on great Conqueror, till all know thy salvation."

In the years since 2009 I still have not found a high-quality choral version of this on-line. Someone needs to get together a really good choir and put out a collection of Anglican hymns. But here is a nice organ version:


Anonymous said...


Kristor said...

Lydia: Google "kings college choir hymns" and you'll find links to albums of performances of hymns ancient and modern by the best choir in the world.

Lots of the other cathedral and chapel choirs of England - any of them far better than choirs on this side of the pond, with a few (3 or 4) exceptions - have released similar sets. Ditto for carols.

Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks, Kristor!!

Out of curiosity, do you know if any of the collections feature "How Bright Appears"? It doesn't come up _instantly_ on googling, but I might just need to google all the more.

Kristor said...

Gosh, I'm having a hard time finding that carol done by a choir I know and respect. Bummer. But I have a 2 disk set from King's College that includes many of my favorite hymns.