Monday, January 6, 2014

The Feast of the Epiphany

Twelve days after Christmas we come again to the Feast of the Epiphany, marked by the familiar story of three royal visitors to the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12).  

Many churches probably celebrated this occasion yesterday but there will be some service today in various places.

Lo! the pilgrim magi
Leave their royal halls,
And with eager footsteps
Speed to Bethlehem's walls;
As they onward journey,
Faith, which firmly rests,
Built on hope unswerving,
Triumphs in their breasts.

Praise to the Creator,
Fount of Life alone;
who unto the nations,
made Christ's glory known.

O what joy and gladness
Filled each heart, from far
When, to guide their footsteps,
Shone that radiant star;
O'er that home so holy,
Pouring down its ray,
Where the cradled infant
With his mother lay.


Costly pomp and splendor
Earthly kings array;
Christ, a mightier Monarch,
Hath a nobler sway;
Straw may be his pallet,
Mean his garb may be,
Yet with power transcendent
He all hearts can free.


At his crib they worship,
Kneeling on the floor,
And their God there present,
In that babe adore;
To our God and Savior
We, as seekers true,
Give our hearts o'erflowing,
Give our tribute due.


Charles Coffin, 1736;
tr, John David Chambers, 1857; alt.
Tune: ARMAGEDDON ( with refrain)

Luise Richardt, 19th cent.;
adapt. John Goss, 1871 

The Roman Catholic Charles Coffin wrote his hymns in Latin, most for the Paris Breviary (1736).  We saw a much more familiar Epiphany hymn by Coffin a few years ago.

Luise Reichardt (1779-1826), born in Berlin, was the daughter of two composers, Juliane Reichardt and Johann Friedrich Reichardt.  One of her grandfathers had been concert master in the court of Frederick the Great.  Her earliest published songs appeared in 1800 in a collection of her father's work.  This particular melody was adapted into a hymn tune by John Goss, and has been used most often with the text Who is on the Lord's side.

Five Years Ago: Saw you never, in the twilight

Four Years Ago:  Earth has many a noble city

Three Years Ago: What star is this, with beams so bright

Two Years Ago: As with gladness those of old

One Year Ago:  O thou, who by a star didst guide

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