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The Story of "Shine for Me Again, Star of Bethlehem", by Daniel Carter and Sherri Otteson Bird

Updated on December 8, 2016

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.

Dan: “Hello.”

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

"Shine for Me Again, Star of Bethlehem" is included in this colleciton
"Shine for Me Again, Star of Bethlehem" is included in this colleciton | Source

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.

Comments

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    • Daniel Carter profile image
      Author

      Daniel Carter 2 years ago from Western US

      Margie Miller, I cherish every message that I receive like yours. This song has also given me hope in seemingly hopeless times. Especially when I get to the words, "But life goes on, years beyond, one brief night of 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.'" I'm glad to know that it has given others as much hope and happiness and me. Thank you so much for commenting.

    • profile image

      Margie Miller 2 years ago

      When I was a teenager in the late 80's and early 90's, my stake used to hold a Christmas Cantata every year, and I would participate. This song was chosen one year by our director. I used to memorize the music because I hated holding it. My sister (also a part of the choir) and I would sing this song in harmony together for years. We forgot the later parts, and the name of the song, but it always had special meaning for me, and during hard times throughout my life, I would sing as much as I could remember. Today, I googled the first like "the night was long, we traveled far" and found this website. I cannot access youtube here from work, but even after 20+ years, I could sing every note as I finally had all the words in front of me. Tears are streaming down my face as I sing it again and again in full now. I just wanted you to know that your song has been close to my heart for more than 2 decades. Thank you.

    • Daniel Carter profile image
      Author

      Daniel Carter 5 years ago from Western US

      Thank you, Juan Pablo Olivera! I'm very glad that you enjoy singing it.

    • profile image

      Juan Pablo Olivera 5 years ago

      fue un placer cantar esta canción en español... me encantaría tener solo la música... es exquisita !!!

    • profile image

      Lanell Huntsman 6 years ago

      P.S. We all have our "life-changing" events (we'd rather not choose)... the line, "Do not despair, your star is still there," is a line that always evokes emotions in me, as well. Thanks for sharing something so deep and personal.

      Also, just had to say... LOVE the beautiful paintings! LOVELY!

      Thanks, again!

    • profile image

      Lanell Huntsman 6 years ago

      I've been looking for this song! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! Our high school choir (directed by a David Bird!) has our students sing it, often! Makes me cry, every time! It gives me chills, and brings tears to my eyes, each and every time, as well! One sister, for our sister's church social Christmas dinner, sang this as a solo, and I STILL remember how beautifully she sang it! THANK YOU for posting this! Sure enjoyed hearing it, again!

    • profile image

      Sam Payne 6 years ago

      Robert Redford's theater at Sundance, though not hosting quite as robust a summer theater season as it once did, is far from defunct. There are still concerts there every year in the summer by regional and national acts. It's a lovely, lovey space in which to see a show, and in which to perform one. And people still have opportunity for both.

    • profile image

      Lani 7 years ago

      My goodness . . . what a lovely song and the words are beautiful. I got chills when listening!

    • profile image

      Gayle Carter Blanc 7 years ago

      This is beautiful! I love that you are doing videos for some of your pieces. And you know I have always loved Daniel's paintings. The comments of how this piece transformed from a discarded piece from a musical, into this wonderfulk Christmas piece is amazing and inspiring. Keep up the good work! Eye heart ewe. :-)

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a wonderful song and the story.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

      It's a beautiful song, and the story of how it came to be written is also moving. And on top of that, the paintings are gorgeous!

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