To raise the level of hymn singing in his parish, Anglican bishop Reginald Huber penned a number of hymns including Holy, Holy, Holy and the lesser-known Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning (Hail the Blest Morn). When he asked his superiors about publishing a hymnal, they denied his request so Brightest and Best made its first published appearance in the Christian Observer (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 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.
Cold on his cradle the dewdrops 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.
Today, Brightest and Best is sung to several different hymn tunes. For my piano arrangement, I chose 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 to highlight the tune’s minor tonality and the melody’s earthy beauty. One of my favorites to play, this arrangement falls under the fingers easily – you can just relax and enjoy making music.