The Story of "Shine for Me Again, Star of Bethlehem", by Daniel Carter and Sherri Otteson Bird
Shine for Me Again, Star of Bethlehem
How the Song Came to Be
In 1981, David and Sherri Bird were neighbors of ours. We all lived in university student housing at the time. As we got to know the Birds, I showed Sherri a tune I wrote, that had been used in a stage musical called Can't Stand Still! The song was never included in the live production. There were some reservations about it, so I took it out of the show. The show seemed to have its run (45 performances at Robert Redford's Sundance Outdoor Theater—now defunct), with no other future prospects, so it reinforced my idea of removing from the show and remaking it as a Christmas song.
Sherri took the photocopy of my hand drawn manuscript with the crossed out original lyrics and said, "Let me think about it. If it's going to be a Christmas song, it needs to be something different."
Several months went by. I wondered if anything would come of it, but I received an unexpected phone call around 10 pm on a Sunday evening.
David: “Are you in your PJs yet?”
Dan: (quite perplexed) “No, (pause, contemplating hanging up) are you?”
David: “You mean I didn’t catch you in bed? Well, what are you doing then?”
Dan: “Who is this?”
David: “How soon can you be over here?”
Dan: “I don’t think I want to be over there.”
David: “Sherri finished the song. How soon can you be here?!”
Dan: “Oh! This is Bird! We’ll be there in 10 minutes!”
We all sat down and Sherri sat at the piano and played and sang. She choked up a little when she sang "do not despair, your star is still there." In fact, we were all unexpectedly emotional about the message of this song. Little did I know how my life would change in the coming years. I had no idea of the catastrophic losses of loved ones, homes, belongings and income ahead of me. I couldn't have ever predicted that I would be shunned by people and organizations I thought would always love and accept me. I had no idea that I would one day, myself, look in the sky in anger and wonder why such things happened not only to me, but to those I loved.
But the years have changed me. For the better. I have learned that my star is still there. I have learned that song wasn't written as a gift for everyone else, it was written as a gift to me, too. No one escapes the awful stuff in life. But it is how we choose to let it affect us that defines our path. We can swallow our own bitterness and hate and thus poison ourselves and everyone around us, or we can learn the lessons life has handed us and find our peace. Find that connection with that star that never stops shining, the Presence in the universe that keeps us from ever being alone, those "smiling eyes, shining up at me."
"Newborn King" by Dan Freed
Words by Sherri Otteson Bird
The night was long, we travelled far.
At times I looked, but could not see the star,
Yet still it shone unveiling then
The way to Bethlehem.
My heart held fear 'mid puzzled joy,
For I was only a small shepherd boy,
And on a hillside soft and green,
I heard an angel sing.
I saw the midnight sky aflame with
Radiant angels bathed in light, holy light,
Bringing word that Christ was born and
Beckoning to find Him, go and find Him.
A sweeter face I ne'er will see
Than of those loving eyes smiling up at me.
I found a King, I found a Friend,
That night in Bethlehem.
But life goes on, years beyond one brief night of my youth—
Time clouds my vision of truth.
And though I stumble and fall I can hear someone call,
"Do not despair, your star is still there."
That Christmas night so long ago
Has filled my life with light because I know
That He lives now as He did then
A King in Bethlehem,
Whose love never ends.
Shine for me again,
Star of Bethlehem.
Included in This Collection of Christmas Solos
Information for Ordering Sheet Music
Sheet music for this song is available through Jackman Music Corporation, in various versions. Arrangements for vocal solo, choir, guitar, and even a Christmas cantata, complete with narrative storyline and other favorite pieces. You can even listen to the entire cantata here (ordering info included).
For information and ordering the solo and choir versions, click here.
For guitar version, click here.
Listen to Shine for Me Again, Star of Bethlehem Cantata, Part 1
Shine for Me Again, Star of Bethlehem, Part 2
Shine for Me Again, Star of Bethlehem, Part 3
For more information about this cantata, sheet music, accompanying flute obbligato, and more, see the companion article about it, here.
"They Called His Name Jesus" by Dan Freed
More about Artist, Dan Freed
My friend, Dan Freed is a fine artist. He has many great works and paintings, and two of his paintings are included in the music video.
You can find out more about Dan's works here.
More by this Author
Music video of the beloved hymn "Sweet Hour of Prayer" arranged by Daniel Carter. Story of how he came to arrange the hymn. History and background of original author and composer.
The Story of the Hymn, "As Now We Take the Sacrament" by Daniel Carter. Seven different versions of the hymn were rejected from the LDS Hymnbook, but finally the seventh was accepted.
Diagrams and easy to follow text that will help musicians learn to read music whether as a singer or instrumentalist.