In an effort to raise the level of hymn singing in his parish, Anglican bishop Reginald Huber (1783-1826) penned a number of hymns including Holy, Holy, Holy and its lesser-known cousin Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning (Hail the Blest Morn). However, when he asked his superiors about publishing a hymnal (he even engaged the help of Sir Walter Scott for his project), they denied his request so Brightest and Best made its first published appearance in the Christian Observer (November 1811). It was his wife, Amelia, who later helped him publish Brightest and Best in their joint book Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Service of the Church Year (1827).
Brightest and Best is found in today’s hymnals with a variety of tunes but, for my piano arrangement, I chose one of the more common ones: Star in the East, a folk tune with roots in the early American singing schools that used shaped notes to teach rural people to read music. I used simple rhythms and harmonies throughout my arrangement to highlight both the tune’s minor tonality and the melody’s earthy beauty. Enjoy!
Brightest and best of the stars 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.