We have chosen LSB 872, Come, Thou Bright and Morning Star, as our Advent 2021 seasonal hymn. Advent marks the beginning of a new Church Year. Throughout this season, we remember Jesus’ first advent, or coming, and, in continuity with the final weeks of the old year, anticipate His Parousia, or final return. Advent is sometimes called a “mini-Lent,” a penitential season during which we reflect on our sin and need for a Savior, as we prepare for His arrival. During Advent, we fast from the Gloria in Excelsis, which we will resume when we join again with the multitude of the heavenly host in their great song of praise on the Eve of the Feast of the Nativity (Luke 2:14).
The hymn opens with a prayer to Jesus, our bright morning star (Revelation 22:16), to come into our midst, shine His light upon us and drive away the darkness of our sin (Isaiah 9:2; John 1:4-5, 8:12, 12:46). Also, of note is the reference to Jesus being “without beginning,” namely True God, coeternal with the Father, thus refuting the Arian heresy of Jesus as created being (John 1:1; Colossians 1:17; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 22:13; Athanasian Creed). The second and third stanzas expand on the opening. Like the Aaronic blessing, the hymn moves from our Lord’s shining light to His grace, namely His favor which we do not deserve (Numbers 6:25). Without God, we are dead in our sins (Romans 5:12). Our creator God first created new life in us at Baptism (Romans 6:4). Every time we repent of our sins and receive His absolution won for us on the Cross, He re-creates new life in us (Psalm 51:10; Ephesians 4:24). God’s grace is like the morning dew, bringing moisture to dry places, causing new life to blossom and take root (Hosea 14:5). In these two stanzas we pray that our Lord would grace us with comfort and re-creation, that with zeal and joy we live the lives He has intended for us (Isaiah 45:8; Romans 12:11; Ephesians 2:1-10).
The fourth and fifth stanzas anticipate the Parousia. In the opening of the fourth stanza, Jesus is addressed as, “Thou Dayspring from on high.” Dayspring, an archaic word for sunrise, is a messianic term, recalling Malachi 4:2 and Luke 1:78.[i] (c.f. December 21 “O” Antiphon; LSB 357.6). We pray with certain hope that at the Last Day, at God’s summons, we will rise again to a new and perfected life (Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We pray that our Lord lead us through “this vale of tears” (Psalm 84:6; Small Catechism, Lord’s Prayer, 7th Petition) to the New Jerusalem, and her eternal pure joy and perfect peace, fully reconciled and at one with Him, and basking in His eternal light and glory (Colossians 1:20; Revelation 7:9-17, 19:6-9, 21:3-4, 21:22-27).
Come, Thou Bright and Morning Star is included in the section of morning hymns in LSB. This is very appropriate as we invoke God’s presence through our sacrifice of prayer first thing as we wake up (Psalm 5:3). The hymn though is very appropriate for the Advent season as we reflect on our sinfulness, Jesus’ first advent to die on the Cross to forgive our sins and rise again to declare us right with the Father, His continual coming to us in Word and Sacrament to bring us His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation, and His Parousia, when He will bring us to eternal life with Him. We are thankful to God for your presence with us today, and pray His richest blessings on you as you receive His gifts in our midst.
[i] Luke 1:78 in the KJV reads, “Through the tender mercy of our God; Whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us.”