Hymn #158: O Morning Star, How Clear and Bright

Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608) wrote this text, based on Psalm 45, in seven ten-line stanzas and published it in 1599.  The beginning letters of each stanza formed an acrostic, which referred to one of Nicolai's students.  Catherine Winkworth translated the German text "Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern" in 1863.

Philipp Nicolai was born i Waldeck (now part of Germany) on August 10, 1556, and was an outstanding Lutheran preacher of his time.  He served parishes in Herdecke in the Rhineland, Cologne, Unna in Westphalia, and Hamburg, where he died October 26, 1608.

Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608) composed this tune, WIE SCHON LEUCHTET, during a time of plague while he was a minister in Westphalia.  It became widely popular throughout Germany and was used for many occasions, especially weddings.

Philipp Nicolai changed his surname for Rafflenboel to Nicolai, using a form of his father Nicolas's first name.  As a child he anticipated his life's work by "playing church" and officiating at funerals for pets who died.  When Nicolai was ordained to the ministry he was only twenty years old.