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ADD: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning

PTA 20 Dec 01 - 03:01 PM
MMario 20 Dec 01 - 03:06 PM
PTA 20 Dec 01 - 03:14 PM
Joe_F 20 Dec 01 - 05:30 PM
kytrad 20 Dec 01 - 06:31 PM
Sorcha 20 Dec 01 - 06:34 PM
masato sakurai 20 Dec 01 - 06:53 PM
raredance 21 Dec 01 - 06:41 PM
kytrad 22 Dec 01 - 03:49 PM
raredance 22 Dec 01 - 07:29 PM
Burke 15 Dec 04 - 08:18 PM
Burke 15 Dec 04 - 08:27 PM
Burke 15 Dec 04 - 08:32 PM
Burke 15 Dec 04 - 08:52 PM
Joe_F 22 Dec 08 - 10:33 PM
BB 23 Dec 08 - 11:42 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Dec 08 - 02:01 PM
kytrad 23 Dec 08 - 09:57 PM
Haruo 23 Dec 08 - 10:51 PM
Barbara 24 Dec 08 - 12:05 AM
Haruo 24 Dec 08 - 12:22 AM
kytrad 25 Dec 08 - 04:46 PM
Haruo 25 Dec 08 - 06:49 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Dec 08 - 08:12 PM
Joe Offer 05 May 16 - 02:17 AM
GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler 05 May 16 - 06:31 PM
GUEST,Lin 05 May 16 - 07:31 PM
Joe Offer 05 May 16 - 08:00 PM
Reinhard 06 May 16 - 12:11 AM
Joe Offer 06 May 16 - 12:46 AM
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Subject: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: PTA
Date: 20 Dec 01 - 03:01 PM

Anyone have the lyrics to the traditional folk hymn "Brightest and Best"?

I heard a sample from Jean Ritchie's website and it reminded me I've been meaning to learn all the lyrics and work out the fingering for it on my mountain dulcimer for the holidays. It's a great one for getting lots of people to try various harmonies.

If no one answers this thread by Christmas Eve, I'll resort to looking for them in my church hymnal.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: MMario
Date: 20 Dec 01 - 03:06 PM

this one?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: PTA
Date: 20 Dec 01 - 03:14 PM

Yes. Those the lyrics. The tunes attached to them were close to the tune that I know and that Jean Ritchie sings on her albumn but are the more stylistic versions from the classical roots.

Thanks so much for your quick reply. I'm off to work on it with my dulcimer right now!

Paula Archer Belmont, MA


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: Joe_F
Date: 20 Dec 01 - 05:30 PM

The version on that Web site (& in _Rise Up Singing_) is missing a stanza that is sung at the beginning by Jean Ritchie:

Hail the blest morn when the great Mediator
Down from the regions of glory descends;
Shepherds, go worship the Babe in the manger,
Lo! for a guard the bright angels attend.

Was that added by another hand?

The Ritchies use the first stanza given as a chorus.

Incidentally, she writes "suns" for "sons" -- probably a mistake, but possibly an improvement. %^)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: kytrad
Date: 20 Dec 01 - 06:31 PM

It came down in our family as, "suns." And it does make sense- as it is the Christmas star (the Morning Star) that is being addressed. I think that the "mistake" was made long ago, and in the opposite direction (someone sang,or printed, "sons" instead of, "suns"). As I pointed out in another thread, last year or so, Lucifer was the one referred to as, "Son of the Morning," so wouldn't it be odd for a composer of sacred songs to write the line so?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Dec 01 - 06:34 PM

Welcome to the zoo, Paula! We are only dangerous close to feeding time. oops, considering that it's an international forum............(grin)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 20 Dec 01 - 06:53 PM

The Ritchie version with music is in Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians, as sung by Jean Ritchie (Oak, p. 61). The "Hail the best morn" stanza is originally from another hymn, but it matches well here. The source hymn ("Star in the East") is in Southern Harmony (CLICK HERE).
~Masato


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: raredance
Date: 21 Dec 01 - 06:41 PM

A version in "Early American Christmas Music" by Glenn Wilcox (1995 Mel Bay Publications) contains three more verses than the ones linked to here. I put them below. Anyone know if they are from Heber or some other source? (confession: I had to look up "refulgent")

Low at his feet we in humble prostration
Lose all our sorrow and trouble and strife;
There we receive his divine consolation,
Flowing afresh from the fountain of life.

He is our friend in the midst of temptation,
Faithful supporter whose love cannot fail;
Rock of our refuge, and hope of salvation,
Light to direct us through death's gloomy vale.

Star of the morning, they brightness, declining,
Shortly must fade when the sun doth arise:
Beaming refulgent, his glory eternal
Shines on the children of love in the skies.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: kytrad
Date: 22 Dec 01 - 03:49 PM

Completely strange verses, rich r- maybe someone wrote them for the Mel Bay version, in the interests of copyright? What melody is used with these verses?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: raredance
Date: 22 Dec 01 - 07:29 PM

The Wilcox book includes two melodies. One he credits to the "Southern Harmony". The other he describes as one of a family of "Star" (i.e Star in the East - rr) tunes and says one of the earliest printings is in the 1833 "Christian Lyre" by Joshua Leavitt. The second tune is clearly similar to but not identical to the one you have in "Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians". All eight quatrains are printed with both melodies.

By the way in the first line of the last stanza I posted above it should be "thy" and not "they".

rich r


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best Lyrics?
From: Burke
Date: 15 Dec 04 - 08:18 PM

I've been looking at Reginald Heber hymns & have become facinated by the additional verses rich r posted for Brightest and Best.

The Southern Harmony does have the additional 3 verses with The Shepherd's Star. That particular setting is not the usual "Star in the East" tune that most use from the Southern harmony. Both use the anonymous "Hail the blest morn" for the first verse. Star in the East uses "Brightest and Best" as the chorus while Shepherd's Star completely omits Heber's first verse.

These verses are not in Heber's collection that was published in 1827, the year after he died. I've been coming across a date of 1811 for the words & it may be that he did include them in some earlier version of the words.

There's some additional discussion in This thread, but I don't see where any of the full versions have been posted.


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Subject: Lyr Add: Brightest and Best of the Sons
From: Burke
Date: 15 Dec 04 - 08:27 PM

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!

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!

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Odours of Edom and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation;
Vainly with gifts would His favour secure;
Richer by far is the heart's adoration;
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

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!

"Epiphany.--No. II. R.H." in Hymns, written and adapted to the Weekly Church Service of the Year / by the Right Rev. Reginald Heber. London: John Murray, 1827.. p. 25-26.


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Subject: Lyr Add: Star in the East (Southern Harmony)
From: Burke
Date: 15 Dec 04 - 08:32 PM

Hail the blest morn, see the great Mediator,
Down from the regions of glory descend!
Shepherds, go worship the babe in the manger,
Lo, for his guard the bright angels attend.

Refrain:

   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.

Cold on his cradle the dewdrops are shining;
Low lies his bed with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore him, in slumbers reclining,
Wise men and shepherds before him do fall.

Refrain

Say, shall we yield him, in costly devotion,
Odors of Eden and offerings divine?
Gems from the mountain, and pearls from the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, and gold from the mine?

Refrain

Vainly we offer each ample oblation;
Vainly with gold we his favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart's adoration;
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Refrain

Source: Southern Harmony, p. 16. Arranged by William Walker.

@Christmas


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Subject: Lyr Add: The Shepherd's Star
From: Burke
Date: 15 Dec 04 - 08:52 PM

1. Hail the blest morn, see the great Mediator,
   Down from the regions of glory descend!
   Shepherds, go worship the babe in the manger,
   Lo, for his guard the bright angels attend.

2. Cold on his cradle the dewdrops are shining;
   Low lies his bed with the beasts of the stall;
   Angels adore him, in slumbers reclining,
   Wise men and shepherds before him do fall.

3. Say, shall we yield him, in costly devotion,
   Odors of Eden and offerings divine?
   Gems from the mountain, and pearls from the ocean,
   Myrrh from the forest, and gold from the mine?

4. Vainly we offer each ample oblation;
   Vainly with gold we his favor secure;
   Richer by far is the heart's adoration;
   Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

5. Low at his feet we in humble prostration,
   Lose all our sorrow and trouble and strife;
   There we receive his divine consolation,
   Flowing afresh from the fountain of life.

6. He is our friend in the midst of temptation,
   Faithful supporter, whose love cannot fail;
   Rock of our refuge, and hope of salvation,
   Light to direct us through death's gloomy vale.

7. Star of the morning, thy brightness, declining,
   Shortly must fade when the sun doth arise:
   Beaming refulgent, his glory eternal
   Shines on the children of love in the skies.

William Walker's Southern Harmony


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the ...
From: Joe_F
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 10:33 PM

Reginald Heber wrote this song in 1811. He definitely wrote "sons of the morning", not "suns", tho the change is surely natural in context
("Dawn on our darkness"). One source, http://nottinghamchurches.org/hymns/brightest.html, says that the phrase alludes to Isaiah 14:12. If so, the puzzle thickens, for that verse refers to Lucifer, a *fallen* angel commonly identified with Satan. In any case, the stanza is clearly about the Star of Bethlehem, and AFAIK there is no warrant for identifying that with an angel, fallen or not.

"Suns of the morning" seems plausible to us in that in modern astronomy the sun counts as a star, so that "suns" is available as a poetic word for "stars". Whether that would also come natural to a clergyman two centuries ago is an amusing question, on which the OED, remarkably, casts no light; offhand I would guess not.

Merry Christmas, anyway. %^)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the ...
From: BB
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 11:42 AM

This was the first carol to be chosen at our pub's annual Midwinter Carol night this year. Really great one to sing!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the ...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 02:01 PM

"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! (Isaiah 14:12, King James version).

The puzzle is easy enough to disentangle. Lucifer is a fallen angel, and "sons of the morning" here means the band of angels whose role in the Christmas story is to announce the birth of Jesus to the shepherds:

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.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the ...
From: kytrad
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 09:57 PM

But, McGrath- ALL the verbs in that verse (or chorus) are addressed to the Star, who is described in the salutory first line: Brightest and best of the suns of the morning. In the following lines, this star (sun) is bidden to DAWN on our darkness; and in the last line to GUIDE. The whole song is addressed to this Star, or Sun of the morning. It's so clear- who could mistake its meaning? I can just imagine someone, in 1811, hearing or singing or seeing the written song for the first time (the proofreader, maybe?) and assuming that "sun" was a mistake, and so it must be "son." And that's what I'm believing, children!

All of you have a Merry Christmas, a Mysterious Twelfthnight,a wondrous Chanikuh, a Happy________________?(fill this in)
and may 2009 be your the Best New Year Yet!   Love to all, Jean


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the ...
From: Haruo
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 10:51 PM

I think the Star addressed is Jesus himself, folks. The Oriens, the O of "ERO CRAS" in the Great "O" Antiphons, source of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Protestants have lost most of that line of imagery, though Wesley keeps it in his reference to Jesus as "Sun of Righteousness, risen with healing in his wings".

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the ...
From: Barbara
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 12:05 AM

Dunno about others' versions, but I've sung this as a Shape Note for years. That's what Southern Harmony is, a shape note hymn book.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the ...
From: Haruo
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 12:22 AM

The Quaker hymnal Worship in Song (1996) contains a roundnote version of the Star in/of the East setting, beginning with the "Hail the blest morn" verse.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the ...
From: kytrad
Date: 25 Dec 08 - 04:46 PM

"Star IN the east I believe to be correct. Not OF the east.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the ...
From: Haruo
Date: 25 Dec 08 - 06:49 PM

Insofar as "correct" has meaning in the context of tune name conventions, I think you're right, Jean.

Incidentally (and off topic) do you have a list of your contributions to Worship in Song: A Friends' Hymnal? I've noticed (but not noted, alas) discrepancies between the index and the notes at the songs themselves. As a hymnologist and a hymnal editor, such discrepancies tend to give me pause, if not sleepless nights. I'm so glad they included your Garden hymn ("Now Is the Cool of the Day").

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the ...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Dec 08 - 08:12 PM

My point was that if it was "sons of the morning" that Reginald Heber wrote, there's really no problem about Lucifer having been described in that way in that translation of Isaiah 14:12, since in that quote it essentially means "angel".


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Subject: ADD: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 May 16 - 02:17 AM

Thread #87588   Message #3225118
Posted By: CupOfTea
18-Sep-11 - 09:45 AM
Thread Name: Tune Req: any songs about the magi?
Subject: Lyr Add: BRIGHTEST AND BEST OF THE SONS OF THE ...

For decades my favorite Epiphany song has been Brightest and Best (also known as Star iu the East) - first fallen in love with from John McCutcheon's Winter Solstice album. It's in Southern Harmony I've seen two different tunes for it, with settings in The Christmas Revels Songbook and the current Episcopal Hymnal.

Hail the blest morn, see the great Mediator,
Down from the regions of glory descend!
Shepherds, go worship the babe in the manger,
Lo, for his guard the bright angels attend.

Refrain:
   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.

Cold on his cradle the dewdrops are shining;
Low lies his bed with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore him, in slumbers reclining,
Wise men and shepherds before him do fall.

Refrain

Say, shall we yield him, in costly devotion,
Odors of Eden and offerings divine?
Gems from the mountain, and pearls from the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, and gold from the mine?

Refrain

Vainly we offer each ample oblation;
Vainly with gold we his favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart's adoration;
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Refrain

If you'd like to go ALL out, there's always Gian Carlo Menotti's one-act opera Amahal and the Night Visitors.

I'm so tickled by the post with Flawn Williams charming parody, both for the song and for reminder of this seldom seen friend. I've tucked the lyrics away for our Christmas sing.

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: ADD: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning
From: GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler
Date: 05 May 16 - 06:31 PM

We have here a hymn of a known author, Bishop Heber, who wrote a known set of words, published in 1811. There is no reason to suggest that he "really" meant what he didn't publish - ie "suns" rather than "sons".
The writer is clearly addressing the Star of Bethlehem, and praying that today's (ie his contemporaries) Christians will be led to Jesus, as the magi were led to his cradle, by following the Light (Jesus and His message.) There is a whole set of theological arguments to do with Jesus Christ as light bringer - most of St John's Gospel for a start!
"Son of the morning" = "Morning star" = "Bringer of the Dawn". He brings light to the world, as well as the individual soul, and the darkness fails.
I have no argument as to tunes - I only know one - "Epiphany Hymn", but I'm certain that there are many others, just as good, if not better, both in tune and arrangement.

Chris B.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning
From: GUEST,Lin
Date: 05 May 16 - 07:31 PM

This song can also be heard on a 1965 folk LP by Kathy & Carol.
They were two young girls (around 18 or 19 years old )at the time and from the San Diego, California area. I believe you can find their version on Youtube under their names self-titled LP, Kathy & Carol.
A lot of wonderful songs on that album! I think it was released years later on CD.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 May 16 - 08:00 PM

Thanks for the tip, Lin. It's a lovely recording of the song. There are two Kathy & Carol recordings available on Spotify and the usual MP3 outlets: Kathy & Carol, and Keepsake.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: ADD: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning
From: Reinhard
Date: 06 May 16 - 12:11 AM

Debra Cowan and John Roberts sang a beautiful version with the title "Star in the East" on her 2005 CD "Dad's Dinner Pail and Other Songs from the Helen Hartness Flanders Collection". She refers in her liner notes to Jean Ritchie collecting the song,

And Joe, you forgot to include the Traditional Ballad Index entry ;-) It's JRSF150.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 May 16 - 12:46 AM

Hi, Reinhard - I'm trying to document all the songs in the Rise Up Singing Songbook into a companion database like the one we just finished for the sequel, Rise Again. I'm indexing Wikipedia entries, Mudcat threads, artist Websites, Roud Number, and "Other" (usually Traditional Ballad Index, Hymnary.org, and a few others)....and sometimes even Mainly Norfolk.

So, yes, I had planned to get to the Traditional Ballad Index entry...in due time. But here it is now:

Brightest and Best

DESCRIPTION: "Hail the blest morn when the great Mediator down from the regions of glory descends." The song describes the baby Jesus's humble birth and the feeble gifts they offer him. "Brightest and best of the sons of the morning, Dawn on our darkness...."
AUTHOR: Words widely credited to Reginald Heber (1783-1826)
EARLIEST DATE: 1811 (Christian Observer, according to Marilyn Kay Stulken, _Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship_, Fortress Press, 1981, p. 185)
KEYWORDS: religious Jesus Christmas gift
FOUND IN: US(Ap)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Ritchie-SingFam, pp. 150-151, "[Brightest and Best]" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-Southern, p. 55, "Brightest and Best" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Ian Bradley, _The Penguin Book of Carols_ (1999), #13, "Brightest ans Best of the Sons of the Morning" (1 text)

Roud #5743
RECORDINGS:
Ritchie Family, "Brightest and Best" (on Ritchie03)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Star in the East
NOTES: Earlier editions of this index credited this piece to Reginald Heber (1783-1826), on the basis of Irwin Silber's The Season of the Year. Ian Bradley's The Penguin Book of Carols also attributes the song to Heber, and says it was the first hymn he wrote. The New Oxford Book of Carols , however, credits the arrangement to William Walker, while submitting that the "refrain and vv. 2-4 [are] after Reginald Heber." But Spaeth, in A History of Popular Music in America, places the whole thing in the hands of Walker.
Heber's most important other work is probably "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty." He also wrote "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" and "God, That Madest Earth and Heaven."
George Pullen Jackson does not mention either Walker or Heber; he finds it first in William Caldwell's 1837 Union Harmony (but it's not clear whether this is text or tune or both).
Bradley cites Routley to the effect that 19 different tunes have been used for this set of lyrics. I don't have a full list, but I find in my library:
The Lutheran book The Parish School Hymnal of 1926 lists the tune as by J. P. Harding (1861-?).
The phrase "sons of the morning" is thought to have been inspired by Isaiah 14:12, which the King James Bible renders "How art though fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" This has sparked some controversy, because "Lucifer" is equated with Satan. But this is one of those over-reactions to the King James rendering. The translators used "Lucifer" in its Latin sense of "Light-bringer," which is a fair rendering of the Hebrew word which means something like "one who brightens." Modern versions render the Hebrew word something like "Day Star"; it's thought by some to be a reference to the pretensions of the Kings of Babylon.
I'm a bit leery of this whole interpretation anyway. The idea of "Children of Light" or "Children of the Morning" is a common one in mythology, and might just have occurred to the author (whether Heber or someone else) because it sounds good.
John Julian, editor, A Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes), p. 182, has quite a bit to say of the song:
"Brightest and best of the sons of the morning. [By] B[isho]p R[eginald] Heber. [Epiphany.] 1st pub[lished] in the Christian Observer, Nov. 1811, p. 697, in 5 st[anzas] of 4 l[ines] (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."
Julian, although accepting without hesitation the attribution to Heber, notes a Presbyterian hymnal which attributes it to Tate and Brady. He also notes a Latin translation, "Stella, micans coelo nitido magia omnibus una," by Reverend R. Bingham.
Julian, pp. 503-504, offers a brief biography of Heber, beginning "Born at Malpas, Apil 21, 1783, educated at Brasenose College, Oxford; Vicar of Hodnet, 1807; B[isho]p of Calcutta, 1823; d[ied] at Trichinopoly, Indian, April 3, 1826." He showed his skills as a poet from a young age, and was a friend of Southey among others; he wrote most of his works during his years at Hodnet, during which time he also engaged in literary scholarship; he gave up literature when he took up his episcopate. Julian lists more than two dozen hymns from his pen, but apart from "Brightest and Best," the only two I've ever encountered are "From Greenland's icy mountains" (which, Julian notes, has mentions of India but was written before Heber transferred there) and "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty." - RBW
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