Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning

Representative Text

1 Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness, and lend us Thine aid,
Star of the east, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

2 Say, shall we yield Him in costly devotion,
Odors of Edom and off'rings divine,
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

3 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.

4 Cold on His cradle the dew-drops are shining,
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Savior of all.

Source: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: an African American ecumenical hymnal #285

Author: Reginald Heber

Reginald Heber was born in 1783 into a wealthy, educated family. He was a bright youth, translating a Latin classic into English verse by the time he was seven, entering Oxford at 17, and winning two awards for his poetry during his time there. After his graduation he became rector of his father's church in the village of Hodnet near Shrewsbury in the west of England where he remained for 16 years. He was appointed Bishop of Calcutta in 1823 and worked tirelessly for three years until the weather and travel took its toll on his health and he died of a stroke. Most of his 57 hymns, which include "Holy, Holy, Holy," are still in use today. -- Greg Scheer, 1995… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Brightest and best of the sons of the morning
Title: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning
Author: Reginald Heber (1811)
Language: English
Refrain First Line: Brightest and best
Copyright: Public Domain


Brightest and best of the sons of the morning. Bp .R. Heber. [Epiphany.] First published in the Christian Observer, Nov. 1811, p. 697, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines (the last being the first repeated); and again in his posthumous Hymns, &c, 1827, p. 25. Few hymns of merit have troubled compilers more than this. Some have held that its use involved the worshipping of a star, whilst others have been offended with its metre as being too suggestive of a solemn dance. Cotterill gave it in the 8th edition, 1819, of his Selection and omitted it from the 9th, 1820; and Elliott, following the example in detail, had it in his 1st edition Psalms and Hymns, 1835, and dropped it from the 2nd, which others have done much the same. It has, however, survived these changes, and has become one of the most widely used of the Bishop's hymns. In the American Presbyterian Psalms & Hymns for the Worship of God, Richmond, 1867, No. 69, it is given in an altered form as "Hail the blest morn! see the Great Mediator," and attributed in the Index to Tate and Brady. The Rev. R. Bingham has given a Latin rendering in his Hymnologia Christiana Latina, 1871: "Stella, micans coelo nitido magis omnibus una."

-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



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