“I am… the Bright and Morning Star” (Revelation 22.16)
The star that the Magi followed led them to the True Star, our Lord Jesus Christ. Pastor Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), the author of “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright,” the HYMN OF THE DAY (395) ties together many different descriptions of Jesus from the Scriptures, of the line of Jacob and David, the heavenly Bridegroom, our light and our salvation.
Pastor Nicolai was known for his gifted preaching and poetry. This hymn is known as the “Queen of Chorales,” one of the finest examples of hymnody. Gifted poets write meaningful words; gifted musicians write meaningful tunes. This hymn is notable in that Pastor Nicolai wrote both the text and tune of “O Morning Star.”
Pastor Nicolai’s life-long service was hampered by theological controversy and he served as Pastor in the town of Unna when a plague took the lives of 1400 people. But this suffering was the backdrop for his beautiful writing which has been the prayer and meditation of faithful Christians for centuries.
As the “Queen of Chorales,” Nicolai’s tune has been set by countless composers for organ, choirs, and instruments. Today’s PRELUDE is settings of the chorale by Georg Friedrich Kauffmann and Michael Praetorius. The choral setting of stanza three is also by Praetorius.
The lessons are Isaiah 60.1–6; Ephesians 3.1–12; and St. Matthew 2.1–12.
The hymns are: 397 As With Gladness, Men of Old
382 We Praise You, Jesus, at Your Birth
395 O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright
399 The Star Proclaims the King is Here
TLH 130 O Jesus, King of Glory
888 O Gladsome Light, O Grace
396 Arise and Shine in Splendor
Prelude: O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright -G.F. Kauffmann / M. Praetorius
Voluntary: Sonata pian’e forte -G. Gabrieli