152. What Star Is This, with Beams So Bright

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1 What star is this, with beams so bright,
more lovely than the noonday light?
’Tis sent to announce a newborn king,
glad tidings of our God to bring.

2 ’Tis now fulfilled what God decreed,
“From Jacob shall a star proceed;"
and lo! the eastern sages stand
to read in heaven the Lord’s command.

3 While outward signs the star displays,
an inward light the Lord conveys
and urges them, with tender might,
to seek the giver of the light.

4 O Jesus, while the star of grace
impels us on to seek your face,
let not our slothful hearts refuse
the guidance of your light to use.

Text Information
First Line: What star is this, with beams so bright
Title: What Star Is This, with Beams So Bright
Author: Charles Coffin (1736)
Translator: John Chandler (1837, alt.)
Publication Date: 2013
Meter: LM
Scripture: Numbers 24:17; Matthew 2:1-12
Topic: Christian Year: Nativity/Christmas; Christian Year: Epiphany; Jesus Christ: Birth
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: PUER NOBIS NASCITUR
Adapter: Michael Praetorius (1609)
Harmonizer: George Ratcliffe Woodward (1910)
Meter: LM
Key: D Major
Source: Trier ms., 15th cent.
Notes: (alternate harmonization, 254)


Text Information:

This 18th-century Latin text calls attention to three kinds of light: the light of the star leading the Magi to the Christ-child, the inward light inspiring their journey, and Christ who is the Light of the world. The simple unison melody unites everything in a gentle arc.


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Audio recording: Audio (MP3)
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