Introductory Note:

In this essay, Ishah Broad has mined treasures from a song I would have brushed off as unworthy for devotional use had she not won me over to it. “Star of Bethlehem” was composed by John Williams ... you know, the man who made magic with film scores for Star Wars, E.T., and Jurassic Park. Maybe there’s something prophetic about a hauntingly beautiful hymn landing squarely inside a secular and silly movie like Home Alone. I looked everywhere to try and find a backstory for Williams’ faith and composition of the hymn, but came up empty. No matter. Ishah’s reflections are enough. She has added to the lyrics her own scripture-filled prose in a way that draws me to the majesty, beauty, and glory of Christ. I hope you’ll find inspiration here as well. 

Grace Pouch
Content Manager

Star of Bethlehem” (1990) composed by John Williams has long been a favourite Christmas song ever since I first heard it. I remember how it stirred my heart as a child, the sound both magical and melancholy. The rise and fall of the melody conveying a deep longing, the lyrics akin to a pleading prayer. 

Star of Bethlehem” reveals much of the beauty of Christ, let’s explore together…

Star of Bethlehem shining bright

Bathing the world in heav’nly light

Let the glow of your distant glory

Fill us with hope this Christmas night

The gospel of John is always a joy to read, the opening passage a declaration of hope that in Jesus Christ there is life and that life is the light of all mankind. Furthermore, this light radiates in the darkness and darkness has no power to overcome it. Then in case we still haven’t quite grasped the message, John reiterates that Jesus is the true light (hinting that there is a false light in this world), who will bring light to everyone, all people, everywhere. Jesus, the light of the world, coming to shine light upon and seek out all who are lost. The glory of this light gives us hope that the needy have not been forgotten. The hope of the oppressed has not perished. Jesus, the Son, is the radiance of God’s glory, the exact expression of God’s nature.

Star of innocence, star of goodness

Gazing out since time began

You who’ve lived through endless ages

View with love the age of man

Jesus is all innocence and goodness, there is no darkness in Him. There is no other way to observe the stars than to look up; likewise, we must lift our eyes to fully observe the beauty of Christ. As heaven is higher than earth, so His ways are so much higher than ours, and His thoughts far above our own. Let us fix our eyes firmly on Him as the only pioneer and perfecter of our faith. All things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things are held together. For God so loved the world that He gave. 

Star of beauty hear our plea

Whisper your wisdom tenderly

Star of Bethlehem set us free

Make us a world we long to see

We are utterly dependent on the Lord Jesus hearing our plea. We breathe a sigh of relief that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Those who believe in Him will not be put to shame, and all who call out to Him will be richly blessed. Where would we be without the wisdom of Jesus? He has literally become wisdom for us. Wisdom is a person we can know. In His wisdom we are made righteous, sanctified, and redeemed. He will teach us wisdom in our innermost being. If we continue in His word (remember John 1:1 — Jesus is the word), we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. 

Star of Bethlehem, star up high

Miracle of the midnight sky

Let your luminous life of heaven

Better our hearts and make us fly 

Jesus does not make our hearts better, He makes them new. Things we never cared about before become the passions of our heart. The oppression and violation of the vulnerable moves us to sincere advocacy. Sins we previously indulged in feel abhorrent to us. Life with Him means we are new creations. This is nothing short of a miracle at midnight, salvation at the eleventh hour,’ in His mercy, He waits for us to turn to Him; to seek forgiveness and restoration. 

Star of happiness, star of wonder

You see everything from afar

Cast your eye upon the future

Make us wiser than we are 

In His presence is fullness of joy, and the kind of happiness that seeps through the circumstantial surface of our lives. God is greater than our hearts and knows all things. Jesus will lead and guide us through these long-suffering days on earth by His Holy Spirit. We need not fear the future, the Father has sent the Spirit in the name of His Son Jesus Christ… who will teach us what we need to know and remind us of the wise words of our Saviour. 

Star of gentleness, hear our plea

Whisper your wisdom tenderly

Star of Bethlehem set us free

Make us a world we long to see 

Our king is gentle and kind. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smouldering wick will not be extinguished. He humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross. This is the tender wisdom of Jesus — our star of Bethlehem

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (Revelation 22:16 CSB)

Listen to Star of Bethlehem” here.

Adapted with the author’s permission from How John Williams’ Star of Bethlehem” Leads Me to Christ.” 

Image: The Nativity, Lorenzo Monaco (c. 1406 – 1410). The Metropolitan Museum of Art & Wikimedia.

Text First Published December 2023 · Last Featured on January 2024