READ : Revelation 22:8-21
I am . . . the bright morning star. (v. 16)
Phillip Nicolai was a Lutheran pastor who lived from 1556 to 1608 and served congregations in several cities in northern Germany. He wrote the words and music of two of the greatest and most popular German hymns, “Sleepers Awake” and “How Bright Appears the Morning Star.”
The Christmas hymn “Wie Schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern” was written during a terrible epidemic in the city where Pastor Nicolai was serving. Surrounded by suffering and death, one day during his devotions he turned his thoughts to the Lord whose coming into the world brought light into our darkness, and who promises his presence in our need. The first verse prays for just that.
How bright appears the Morning Star,
with mercy beaming from afar;
the host of heaven rejoices.
O Righteous Branch, O Jesse's Rod,
the Son of Man and Son of God!
We too will lift our voices:
Jesus, Jesus, holy, holy, yet most lowly,
come, draw near us; great Emmanuel, come and hear us.
But Nicolai doesn't just think of his own immediate circumstances. In the hymn's last stanza his vision expands outward to the whole universe, and forward to the full flowering of salvation. Though now we may experience suffering, and one day we too will die, our Incarnate God has conquered these enemies, and he will make our lives—and the life of the entire creation—end in praise.
Incarnate God, put forth your power;
ride on, ride on, great Conqueror,
till all know your salvation.
Audio Link: http://goo.gl/dRAeFz
Amen, amen! Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise be given evermore by earth and heaven.