Brightest and Best

One of my favorite Epiphany hymns is “Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning.” Written by Reginald “Holy, Holy, Holy” Heber in 1811, it wonderfully ties together the visit of the Magi with our own offerings to Christ. Most hymnals combine it with the dime-a-dozen tune MORNING STAR, but the 1982 Episcopal hymnal makes a far better choice, pairing it with the outstanding tune from Southern Harmony, STAR IN THE EAST. (Music matters, friends!)

In 2013 the entire song was part of Church of the Servant’s Lessons & Carols service, and since that time we have sung verses 3 and 4 as our offertory hymn during Epiphany. The Southern Harmony harmonization is raw and we needed something that would work for pianists as well as guitar-based ensembles, so I wrote a new arrangement: MP3, PDF. I must humbly say that it is the best thing since sliced communion bread.

3. Shall we then yield him, in costly devotion
odors of Edom, and offerings divine,
gems of the mountain, and pearls of the ocean,
myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

4. Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
vainly with gifts would his favor secure;
richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

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