O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright (ELW 308, Verses 1-3)
1 O Morning Star, how fair and bright!
You shine with God’s own truth and light,
Aglow with grace and mercy!
Of Jacob’s race, King David’s Son,
Our Lord and master, you have won
Our heart to serve you only!
Great and glorious,
Rich in blessing!
Rule and might o’er all possessing!
2 Come, heav’nly bridegroom, light divine,
And deep within our hearts now shine;
There light a flame undying!
In your one body let us be
As living branches of a tree,
Your life our lives supplying.
Now, though daily
Earth’s deep sadness
May perplex us
And distress us,
Yet with heav’nly joy you bless us.
3 Lord, when you look on us in love,
At once there falls from God above
A ray of purest pleasure.
Your Word and Spirit, flesh and blood
Refresh our souls with heav’nly food.
You are our dearest treasure!
Let your mercy
Warm and cheer us!
Oh, draw near us!
For you teach us God’s own love through you has reached us.
Phillipp Nicolai’s rich Reformation hymn resonates so well with this week’s first reading, Isaiah’s likening of God’s victorious salvation to the shining brightness of dawn. Though Isaiah focuses on salvation’s object—God’s love for God’s people—Nicolai refocuses the attention on the One who is the agent of God’s salvation. It is Jesus as the “bright and fair Morning Star” who is aglow with God’s mercy, and who now crowned with a crown of precious diamonds, has come with God’s own truth and light to show God’s mercy and to turn earth’s daily sadness into joy. When the light of our Morning Star looks on us in love, there comes from God a “ray of purest pleasure.” As at the wedding of Cana, John tells us, the Word has become flesh and dwelled among us, so in Jesus that flesh and blood word has become our dearest treasure. And so we pray with the hymn writer that this Jesus will draw near us and teach us to know that in Jesus’ presence God’s own love has indeed reached us.
God of Love, may the light of your Morning Star, Jesus our Lord, continue to shine in our hearts with the light of your salvation, that we may know in him that your love has indeed reached us and that we belong to you. Amen.