Stars were gleaming is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, and I’m still surprised that more people aren’t acquainted with this beautiful Polish carol. The tune is soft and lullabyish, and yet evokes a sense of forward movement matching the lyrics which describe the wise men following the Christmas star “through the desert dark and far.” It’s a simple song for children to learn, yet rich enough for the Prague Philharmonic Chorus to perform.
In addition to the captivating tune, I’m drawn to the lyrics, which present the scene of the angels communicating with the lowly shepherds in verse 1 and then transitions to the story of the wise men seeking the Christ child, in verse 2.
As the name of the song suggests, the two verses refer to the role stars played on that first Christmas night. However, in verse 1, the stars referred to are the MANY stars that were gleaming while the shepherds were dreaming. It isn’t until verse 2 that we are introduced to the “blessed Christmas Star” which leads and guides the wise men. And then, to close the verse (and the song) the final declaration is made that the Christmas star still leads us today.
Stars were gleaming, shepherds dreaming
And the night was dark and chill.
Angels’ story rang with glory;
Shepherds heard it on the hill.
Ah, that singing! Hear it ringing,
Earthward winging, Christmas bringing!
Hearken! We can hear it still!
See the clearness and the nearness
Of the blessed Christmas star,
Leading, guiding; wise men riding
Through the desert dark and far.
Lovely showing, shining, growing,
Onward going, gleaming, glowing,
Leading still, our Christmas star!
A Match with The First Noel
As the Rexburg Children’s Choir was planning its Christmas productions for 2019, I felt compelled to create a music video of the choir singing “Stars Were Gleaming.” A fews years prior, I had discovered that the chorus of “The First Noel” matched nicely with the chorus of “Stars Were Gleaming.” With this in mind, I set forth to arrange a version of Stars Were Gleaming with the chorus of Stars Were Gleaming partnered with the chorus from The First Noel. Also, as a nod to the humble stable environment that the Savior was born in, I arranged the piece with blue grass instrumentation and filmed the video in a barn generously provided for our use by Frank VanderSloot, the CEO of Melaleuca.
What resulted was a lovely music video and audio recording that has inspired many thousands through multiple online streaming platforms. It was included in a 2020 worldwide online broadcast of the Christmas Collection Concert Series.