February 07, 2023

Epiphany Hymns and their Story

“O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright”

Both the text and tune, written by Philipp Nicolai [1556-1608], this hymn first appeared in his 1599 book titled “Mirror of the Joys of Eternal Life”. During the months from July 1597 to January 1598, the plague exacted a terrible toll in the worn of Unna, in Westphalia [Germany], where Nicolai served as the Pastor. There were 170 deaths in that tiny town in one week, and this certainly had an impact on a pastor responsible for bringing the comfort of the Gospel wo those who were losing so many loved ones to the plague.
It is important to note, even though we sing this during the Epiphany season, that the “Morning Star” of which we sing is not het star that led the wise men. He is referring to Christ Jesus, who in Revelation is referred to as the “bright morning star.”
In verse two he refers Jesus as the heavenly bridegroom, asking Him to come to His people. The source of this is Matthew 25:1-13, and Psalm 45. Verses three and four focus on God’s gifts in the means of Grace: “your Word and Spirit, flesh and blood”, and on “Your great
Verses five and six must be counted among some of the greatest hymn verses ever written. These verse express the joyful expectation of an eternity in the very presence of Jesus, the One who “ransomed us in love”. The final verse [6], is particularly rich with references to Revelation: “first and last, the end and the beginning” [Rev. 1:8, 17; 2:8; 21:6; 22:13 and finally 22:20, with its “Amen, Come, Lord Jesus!”

O Morning Star, how fair and bright! You shine with God’s own truth and light,
Aglow with grace and mercy.
Of Jacob’s race, King David’s Son, our Lord and Master, You have won
Our hearts to serve You only!
Lowly, Holy! Great and glorious, all victorious, rich in blessing.
Rule and might o’er all possessing!

LSB 395

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