The first Moravian Star was a geometry lesson in the early 1800s, but it’s since become a popular Christmas decoration–especially where there are many Moravian congregations, such as around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Along with display of the star, a favorite Moravian tradition is the singing of this antiphonal hymn, usually featuring a child as soloist at Lovefeast services. Primarily song-based and devotional, Lovefeasts also include the congregation’s partaking of coffee and slightly sweetened buns.
The music is by Moravian minister and composer Francis F. Hagen (1815-1907), who was born and grew up in Salem, North Carolina. He composed this tune in 1836 when he was teaching at the Boys’ School in Salem.