Tag Archives: Epiphany

Behold a Star from Jacob Shining

Behold a star from Jacob shining, and a scepter from Israel rising, to reign in glory over the nations. Like some bright morning star is he, the promise of the coming day, beyond the night of sorrow. Break forth, O light! We, our joyful hearts uplifting with thanksgiving, hail the brightness of thy rising.

–Music: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
–Words: arr. by Henry Wilder Foote, after Numbers 24:17

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When Christ’s appearing was made known

When Christ’s appearing was made known,
King Herod trembled for his throne;
but he who offers heavenly birth
sought not the kingdoms of this earth.

The eastern sages saw from far
and followed on his guiding star;
by light their way to Light they trod,
and by their gifts confessed their God.

Within the Jordan’s sacred flood
the heavenly Lamb in meekness stood,
that he, to whom no sin was known,
might cleanse his people from their own.

Oh, what a miracle divine,
when water reddened into wine!
He spoke the word, and forth it flowed
in streams that nature ne’er bestowed.

All glory, Jesus, be to thee
for this thy glad epiphany:
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.

Words: Caelius Sedulius (5th century)

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What star is this with beams so bright?

What star is this, with beams so bright,
more beauteous than the noonday light?
It shines to herald forth the King,
and Gentiles to his crib to bring.

True spake the prophet from afar
who told the rise of Jacob’s star;
and eastern sages with amaze
upon the wondrous token gaze.

The guiding star above is bright;
within them shines a clearer light,
and leads them on with power benign
to seek the Giver of the sign.

To God the Father, heavenly Light,
to Christ, revealed in earthly night,
to God the Holy Ghost we raise
our equal and unceasing praise.

–Words: Charles Coffin, 1736; trans. John Chandler, 1837, alt.
–Tune: PUER NOBIS (15th century)

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What star is this, with beams so bright

What star is this, with beams so bright,
more beauteous than the noonday light?
It shines to herald forth the King,
and Gentiles to his crib to bring.

True spake the prophet from afar
who told the rise of Jacob’s star;
and eastern sages with amaze
upon the wondrous token gaze.

The guiding star above is bright;
within them shines a clearer light,
and leads them on with power benign
to seek the Giver of the sign.

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

To God the Father, heavenly Light,
to Christ, revealed in earthly night,
to God the Holy Ghost we raise
our equal and unceasing praise.

–Words: Charles Coffin (1676-1749)
–Music: Puer Nobis, melody from Trier MS, 15th century

TheStarofBethlehem-1

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As with gladness men of old

As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold;
as with joy they hailed its light,
leading onward, beaming bright;
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore be led to thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
to that lowly manger-bed;
there to bend the knee before
him whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet
ever seek the mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
at that manger rude and bare;
so may we with holy joy,
pure and free from sin’s alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring,
Christ! to thee, our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus! every day
keep us in the narrow way;
and, when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
need they no created light;
thou its light, its joy, its crown,
thou its sun which goes not down;
there for ever may we sing
alleluias to our King.

Words: William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898), 1860
Tune: Dix (Conrad Kocher, 1786-1872, arranged William Henry Monk, 1823-1889)

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The Journey of the Magi

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

–By T.S. Eliot

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As with gladness men of old

As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold;
as with joy they hailed its light,
leading onward, beaming bright;
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore be led to thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
to that lowly manger-bed;
there to bend the knee before
him whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet
ever seek thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
at that manger rude and bare;
so may we with holy joy,
pure and free from sin’s alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring,
Christ! to thee, our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus! every day
keep us in the narrow way;
and, when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
need they no created light;
thou its light, its joy, its crown,
thou its sun which goes not down;
there for ever may we sing
alleluias to our King.

Words: William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898), 1860
Tune: Dix (Conrad Kocher, 1786-1872, arranged William Henry Monk, 1823-1889)

–From the album Noël: Christmas at Kings, performed by the Choir of Kings College, Cambridge

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