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One of The Best Hymns Ever Written — How Lovely Shines the Morning Star

January 6th, 2013
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One of the very finest hymns ever written is “How Lovely Shines the Morning Star,”  Pastor Philip Nicolai‘s masterpiece. For reasons that escape me entirely, most hymnals do not provide a complete translation. I have two translations to offer you here. First, from the hymn-translating-machine, Matthew Carver, of Hymnoglypt fame, is a literal translation of How Lovely Shine the Morning Star which he produced at my request. Then, a complete translation by a H. Harbaugh, which, though older, at least offers us all seven stanzas. Mr. Carver’s translation brings out the clear references to the Lord’s Supper and means of grace, which is often not an aspect of English translations, by non-Lutherans, who always tend to skip-step past the Sacrament in Lutheran hymnody. And, finally, the German original. I’ve also included here J.S. Bach’s wonderful Cantata, BWV 1, that has this hymn as its centerpiece. The YouTube video gives you the music and words, in both German and English, a bit hard to read, but you can if you try. Enjoy! Happy Epiphany to you all!

1. How beautifully the Morning-star blazes (to us),
full of grace and truth from the Lord,
you sweet root of Jesse;
You—Son of David, from Jacob’s branch,
my King and my Bridegroom—
(You) have occupied my heart,
lovely, friendly, fair and splendid,
great and honorable, rich in gifts,
high and very nobly exalted.

2. Ah, my Pearl, You precious Crown,
true Son of God and of Mary, a high-born King,
my heart calls You a Lily,
Your sweet Gospel is sheer milk and honey.
Ah, my Flower, Hosanna,
heavenly Manna which we eat,
I cannot forget You.

3. You bright Jasper and Ruby,
Pour very deeply into my heart the flame of Your love,
and gladden me so that I may remain a living rib in Your elected body.
My heart is sick and smoldering for You
Gratiosa Coeli Rosa (Gracious Rose of Heaven)
(my heart is) wounded by Your love.

4. From God a glow of joy comes to me,
Whenever You give me a friendly look with Your eyes.
O Lord Jesus, my trusty good,
Your Word, Your Spirit, Your body and blood revive me inwardly.
Kindly accept me in Your arms, so that I may be warmed by grace.
At Your word, I come burdened.

5. Lord God Father, my strong champion,
You loved me in Your Son eternally before the world.
Your Son pledged Himself to me,
He is my treasure, I am His bride, greatly overjoyed in Him.
Eya, eya!
He will give me heavenly life yonder above;
Forever shall my heart praise Him.

6. Strike the cithara-strings
and let sweet music resound all full joyfully,
so that I may well up with constant love for Jesus
my wondrously beautiful Bridegroom.
Sing (you all)!, Jump (you all)!
Jubilate, be triumphant,
thank the Lord;
great is the King of Glory.

7. How heartily happy I am indeed
because my treasure is the Alpha and Omega,
the Beginning and the End;
He shall surely take me up to His prize into Paradise
for this reason I clap my hands.
Amen, Amen!
Come, you beautiful Crown of Joy,
Do not tarry long,
I wait for you with yearning.

1. How beautifully the Morning-star blazes (to us),
full of grace and truth from the Lord,
you sweet root of Jesse;
You—Son of David, from Jacob’s branch,
my King and my Bridegroom—
(You) have occupied my heart,
lovely, friendly, fair and splendid,
great and honorable, rich in gifts,
high an

d very nobly exalted.

2. Ah, my Pearl, You precious Crown,
true Son of God and of Mary, a high-born King,
my heart calls You a Lily,
Your sweet Gospel is sheer milk and honey.
Ah, my Flower, Hosanna,
heavenly Manna which we eat,
I cannot forget You.

3. You bright Jasper and Ruby,
Pour very deeply into my heart the flame of Your love,
and gladden me so that I may remain a living rib in Your elected body.
My heart is sick and smoldering for You
Gratiosa Coeli Rosa (Gracious Rose of Heaven)
(my heart is) wounded by Your love.

4. From God a glow of joy comes to me,
Whenever You give me a friendly look with Your eyes.
O Lord Jesus, my trusty good,
Your Word, Your Spirit, Your body and blood revive me inwardly.
Kindly accept me in Your arms, so that I may be warmed by grace.

At Your word, I come burdened.

5. Lord God Father, my strong champion,
You loved me in Your Son eternally before the world.
Your Son pledged Himself to me,
He is my treasure, I am His bride, greatly overjoyed in Him.
Eya, eya!
He will give me heavenly life yonder above;
Forever shall my heart praise Him.

6. Strike the cithara-strings
and let sweet music resound all full joyfully,
so that I may well up with constant love for Jesus
my wondrously beautiful Bridegroom.
Sing (you all)!, Jump (you all)!
Jubilate, be triumphant,
thank the Lord;
great is the King of Glory.

7. How heartily happy I am indeed
because my treasure is the Alpha and Omega,
the Beginning and the End;
He shall surely take me up to His prize into Paradise
for this reason I clap my hands.
Amen, Amen!
Come, you beautiful Crown of Joy,
Do not tarry long,
I wait for you with yearning.

1. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Voll Gnad und Wahrheit von dem Herrn,
Die süße Wurzel Jesse!
Du Sohn Davids aus Jakobs Stamm,
Mein König und mein Bräutigam,
Hast mir mein Herz besessen,
Lieblich, freundlich,
Schön und herrlich, groß und ehrlich,
Reich von Gaben,
Hoch und sehr prächtig erhaben!

2. Ei meine Perl’, du werte Kron,
Wahr’ Gottes und Mariens Sohn,
Ein hochgeborner König!
Mein Herz heißt dich ein Himmelsblum;
Dein süßes Evangelium
Ist lauter Milch und Honig.
Ei mein Blümlein,
Hosianna! Himmlisch Manna,
Das wir essen,
Deiner kann ich nicht vergessen!

3. Geuß sehr tief in das Herz hinein,
Du leuchtend Kleinod, edler Stein,
Mit deiner Liebe Flamme,
Daß ich, o Herr, ein Gliedmaß bleib
An deinem auserwählten Leib,
Ein Zweig an deinem Stamme.
Nach dir wallt mir,
Mei Gemüte,
Ewig Güte, bis es findet
Dich, des Liebe mich entzündet.

4. Von Gott kommt mir ein Freudenschein,
Wenn du mich mit den Augen dein
Gar freundlich tust anblicken.
O Herr Jesu, mein trautes Gut,
Dein Wort, dein Geist, dein Leib und Blut
Mich innerlich erquicken.
Nimm mich freundlich
In dein Arme, Herr erbarme
Dich in Gnaden;
Auf dein Wort komm ich geladen.

5. Herr Gott Vater, mein starker Held,
Du hast mich ewig vor der Welt
In deinem Sohn geliebet.
Dein Sohn hat mich ihm selbst vertraut,
Er ist mein Schatz, ich seine Braut,
Drum mich auch nichts betrübet.
Eia, eia,
Himmlisch Leben wird er geben
Mir dort oben!
Ewig soll mein Herz ihn loben.

6. Zwingt die Saiten in Cythara
Und laßt die süße Musika
Ganz freudenreich erschallen,
Daß ich möge mit Jesulein,
Dem wunderschönen Bräutgam mein,
In steter Liebe wallen!
Singet, springet,
Jubilieret, triumphieret,
Dankt dem Herren;
Groß ist der König der Ehren!

7. Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh,
Daß mein Schatz ist das A und O.
Der Anfang und das Ende.
Er wird mich doch zu seinem Preis
Aufnehmen in das Paradeis;
Des klopf ich in die Hände.
Amen, Amen,
Komm, du schöne Freudenkrone,
Bleib nicht lange,
Deiner wart’ ich mit Verlangen.

1. How lovely shines the Morning Star!
The nations see and hail afar
The light in Judah shining.
Thou David’s Son of Jacob’s race,
My Bridegroom and my King of Grace,
For Thee my heart is pining.
Lowly, Holy,
Great and glorious, Thou victorious
Prince of graces,
Filling all the heavenly places.

2. O highest joy by mortals won,
True Son of God and Mary’s Son,
Thou high-born King of ages!
Thou art my heart’s most beauteous Flower,
And Thy blest Gospel’s saving power
My raptured soul engages.
Thou mine, I Thine;
Sing hosanna! Heavenly manna
Tasting, eating,
Whilst Thy love in songs repeating.

3. Now richly to my waiting heart,
O Thou, my God, deign to impart
The grace of love undying.
In Thy blest body let me be,
E’en as the branch is in the tree,
Thy life my life supplying.
Sighing, Crying.
For the savor of Thy favour;
Resting never,
Till I rest in Thee forever.

4. A pledge of peace from God I see
When Thy pure eyes are turned to me
To show me Thy good pleasure.
Jesus, Thy Spirit and Thy Word,
Thy body and Thy blood, afford
My soul its dearest treasure.
Keep me kindly
In Thy favour, o my Saviour!
Thou wilt cheer me;
Thy Word calls me to draw near Thee.

5. Thou, mighty Father, in Thy Son
Didst love me ere Thou hadst begun
This ancient world’s foundation.
Thy Son hath made a friend of me,
And when in spirit Him I see,
I joy in tribulation.
What bliss is this!
He that liveth to me giveth
Life forever;
Nothing me from Him can sever.

6. Lift up the voice and strike the string.
Let all glad sounds of music ring
In God’s high praises blended.
Christ will be with me all the way,
Today, tomorrow, every day,
Till traveling days be ended.
Sing out, ring out
Triumph glorious, o victorious,
Chosen nation;
Praise the God of your salvation.

7. Oh, joy to know that Thou, my Friend,
Art Lord, Beginning without end,
The First and Last, Eternal!
And Thou at length, o glorious grace!
Wilt take me to that holy place,
The home of joys supernal.
Amen, Amen!
Come and meet me! Quickly greet me!
With deep yearning
Lord, I look for Thy returning.

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  1. January 6th, 2010 at 15:15 | #1

    I love the literal translation – so much richer! Thanks to you and the prodigious Mr. Carver for making it available.

  2. Rev Allen Yount
    January 6th, 2010 at 16:16 | #2

    Not only does Matthew Carver’s translation more clearly bring out the references to the means of grace, it also brings out allusions to the Song of Solomon in the OT. For example: “You—Son of David, from Jacob’s branch,my King and my Bridegroom—(You) have occupied my heart.” And: “My heart is sick and smoldering for You Gratiosa Coeli Rosa (Gracious Rose of Heaven)(my heart is) wounded by Your love.”.

  3. Terry
    January 11th, 2012 at 07:30 | #3

    Thank you so much for posting this enriching hymn

  4. January 11th, 2012 at 08:00 | #4

    I still prefer the king.

  5. January 11th, 2012 at 12:10 | #5

    Which verses are usually omitted? I’m so used to singing all 7 in ELH.

    I love this hymn because we get beautiful St. Augustine at the end of v. 3, and both v. 3 & 4 are wonderful meditations on the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. And when I am communing myself as pastor, I often say the words from verse 7 to myself silently; still one of my favorite verses, that last one. I have read, too, that at one time in Germany they would hardly consider one properly married if the wedding service had not featured this hymn.

    I have another question. Do you think that Nicolai drew inspiration from the earlier hymn by Elisabeth Cruciger, whose first stanza of “The Only Son From Heaven” ended “He, our Morning Star”? (And of course she probably took her inspiration, at least for most of the first stanza, from the medieval hymn “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.”)

    Pastor Jerry Gernander

  6. Richard
    January 11th, 2012 at 14:21 | #6

    I love the Bach cantata! Got a copy for Christmas–the best version, with the Bach Collegium of Japan and Suzuki–a great period instrument conductor and Christian man, to boot! SDG!

  7. Jonathan Trost
    January 11th, 2012 at 14:33 | #7

    I believe it’s true that Niclolai, unlike the writers of the words to so many Lutheran chorales, was different from them in that he composed not just the hymns (words) but their tune melodies, as well. And that would put him in the waning years of the Meistersinger tradition.

  8. Julia
    January 6th, 2013 at 14:56 | #8

    This has become one of my favorite hymns! Thanks for posting.

Comments are closed.