Sacred Harp Christmas Edition: ‘Bonnie Doon’

When, marshaled on the nightly plain,
The glittering hosts bestud the sky,
One star alone of all the train
Can fix the sinner’s wandering eye.

Hark! hark! to God the chorus breaks,
From every host, from every gem;
But one alone the Savior speaks,
It is the Star of Bethlehem.

Once on the raging seas I rode,
The storm was loud, the night was dark,
The ocean yawned, and rudely blowed
The wind that tossed my foundering bark.

Deep horror then my vitals froze,
Death-struck, I ceased the tide to stem;
When suddenly a star arose,
It was the Star of Bethlehem.

It was my guide, my light, my all;
It bade my dark forebodings cease;
And through the storm and danger’s thrall,
It led me to the port of peace.

Now safely, moored, my perils o’er
I’ll sing, first in night’s diadem,
Forever and forevermore,
The star! The Star of Bethlehem!

Not technically in the Sacred Harp, but it’s a Christmas-themed shape note carol. This recording is from a Christmas album by the Tudor Choir. Go buy it, it’s great!

The tune is usually set to lyrics by Robert Burns:

Ye banks and braes o’ bonnie Doon
How ye can bloom so fresh and fair
How can ye chant ye little birds
And I sae weary fu’ o’ care

Ye’ll break my heart ye warbling birds
That wantons thro’ the flowering thorn
Ye mind me o’ departed joys
Departed never to return

Oft hae I rov’d by bonnie Doon
To see the rose and woodbine twine
And ilka bird sang o’ its love
And fondly sae did I o’ mine

Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose
Fu’ sweet upon its thorny tree
But my false lover stole my rose
But ah! She left the thorn wi’ me

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