The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #89700   Message #1694207
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
15-Mar-06 - 01:47 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Bright Morning Star
Subject: RE: Origins: Bright Morning Star
From the Martin Simpson notes for his cd "A Closer Walk With Thee."
Closer Walk
Re: "Bright Morning Stars"
"From another British a capella group, Sweet Arcade. I learned "Bright Morning Stars," an optimistic melody with a warm and hopeful lyric: "Bright morning stars are rising... Day is a-breaking in my soul." This Appalachian hymn is now very widespread in the modern folk music repertoire. An Appalachian hymn, "Bright Morning Stars," is played in a medley with the curious and beautiful tune "Watch the Stars."
"I learned this from Mike Seeger's version on "American Folk Songs for Christmas", although a more widely known version was recorded by Pentangle.
"The song was collected from the people of St. Helena Island, South Carolina, and was originally published in a 1925 collection of spirituals by N. G. J. Balanta-Taylor, through the Penn Normal Industrial and Agricultural School. It is a gem both lyrically and melodically, beginning "Watch the stars, see how they run."

Balanta-Taylor's book, "St. Helena Island Spirituals," is hard to find and expensive; I have not seen it, so I don't know how close "Watch the Stars" is to "Bright Morning Stars."

In the "Traditional Ballads Index," under "We Have Fathers Gone to Heaven," a cross reference is made to this song:
"cf. "Bright Morning Stars" (theme, floating lyrics)"

Previous Mudcat- "Bright Morning Stars" is in the DT. See threads 70273 and 55272:
70273: Bright
55272: Bright

Judy Collins recorded a fine version in 1962. Her lyrics are here: Bright Morning Stars