John Speller's Web Pages Star of the East! whose beacon light

John Speller's Web Pages - Cornish Carols
Star of the East! whose beacon light
The origins of this text are somewhat perplexing. It is first known in Christmas Carols; or,Sacred Songs,Suited to The Festival of our Lord's Nativity, Published under the direction of the Committee of General Literature and Education appointed by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, by John William Parker of Oxford and London in 1833. This source seems to suggest that all the carols are original, but in the case of some of them, like Bishop Mant's, "Lo! he comes, an Infant stranger," this is clearly not the case. Since the composer of the tune, which was apparently written specifically for this text, died in 1803, I have tentatively labeled it as an eighteenth-century West Country carol. It was reprinted in Penzance in 1870 by F. Rodda in A Selection of Carols, Pieces and Anthems, suitable for Christmas, and also found in a broadsheet printed by R. Woolsock of Helston and preserved in the Bodleian Library [Firth b.26(53)].

The composer of the tune, which is unusual in that the tenor largely doubles the alto, was William Jackson, was organist of Exeter Cathedral from 1777 until his death in 1803. The Diocese of Exeter then comprised the counties of both Devon and Cornwall.

Download PDF

William Jackson (1730-1803), Subchanter, Organist, Lay Vicar, and Master of Choristers to Exeter Cathedral, 1777-1803
Site Contents Untitled