Brightest and best of the sons of the morning (StF 227)

Authors & translators:
Heber, Reginald
Composers & arrangers:
Bridge, John Frederick
Composers & arrangers:
Lee, David (comp)
Singing the Faith: 227 (CD10 #2&3)
STF Number:

Alternative tune - Epiphany (StF 595)

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Ideas for use

Peter Harding, an StF+ user, has observed that ths text "really sparkles to StF tune 108" - David Lee's "In the beginning", set to Andrew Pratt's hymn In the beginning God played with the planets. It offers a wholly different feel to the words, with its syncopated rhythms and high energy level.

More information

At a  when hymn-singing at regular Sunday services was not officially sanctioned in the Church of England, Reginald Heber (1783 – 1826) conceived the idea of ordering (and singing) hymns around the church calendar. This innovative concept was, in a sense, the initial forerunner of Singing the Faith’s own regular lectionary hymn suggestions. Heber himself wrote over 100 hymns while serving as vicar of Hodnet in Shropshire.

reginald-heber-monument-to-bishop-reginald-heber-by-sir-francis-chantrey-st-pauls-cathedral-kolkata-calcutta-indiaBorn into a wealthy and educated family, Heber was bright, entering Oxford University aged 17 and winning poetry prizes, including the Newdigate Prize for his poem, “Palestine”. Following graduation, he was elected a Fellow of All Soul’s College and travelled in northern Europe before being ordained in 1807. He became vicar (and Lord of the Manor) in the village of Hodnet near Shrewsbury in the west of England. He remained there for 16 years, also active as an academic and editor, before taking up, following some initial hesitation, the bishopric in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1823. He was active across all of British India, and ordained the first Indian to take Anglican orders. 

Reginald Heber died in India, following three intense years of ministry and travel. He was seen at the time as a martyr to the cause of overseas Christian mission. (The monument pictured right stands in St Paul's Cathedral, Kolkata.)

The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology comments that “Heber’s sudden and untimely death in India made him a missionary hero, and helped to ensure that his advocacy of hymn singing within the Church of England was successful. His position as a highly-regarded figure helped to dispel the idea that hymns were associated with Methodists and extreme Evangelicals.” 

Other popular hymns by Heber include Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! (StF 11), “From Greenland’s icy mountains” and “By cool Siloam’s shady rill”, which has been taken up again in some more recent hymn books, including Church Hymnary 4.

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