Posted by: rcottrill | July 27, 2016

We Shall Shine as the Stars

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Words: Judson Wheeler Van DeVenter (b. Dec. 5, 1855; d. July 17, 1939)
Music: Judson Wheeler Van DeVenter

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Judson Van DeVenter was a hymn writer and, for awhile, professor of Hymnology at Florida Bible Institute, where he had a spiritual impact on a young student named Billy Graham. In 1899 he wrote a song about the future of the saints called We Shall Shine as the Stars.

It’s been around for more than two centuries, and is one of the best known nursery songs in the English language. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star was written by poet Jane Taylor (1783-1824), and published in 1806. It actually has five stanzas, though only the first is used today.

“How I wonder what you are!” the song exclaims. A puzzle, perhaps, to a little child. But a scientist would explain what a star is: a self-luminous heavenly body, such as our own sun–as opposed to planets and moons which only reflect light from another source.

It’s estimated that the Milky Way galaxy, in which our planet is found, includes anywhere from a hundred billion to four hundred billion stars. And there may well be hundreds of billions of other galaxies spread across the dark reaches of the universe. We can see only a few thousand stars with the naked eye, but powerful telescopes have expanded our view in incredible ways.

We may be able to define what a star is scientifically, but it is still an incredible wonder to consider the vast expanse of God’s creation. Of the fourth day of the creation week we read:

“God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth;’ and it was so” (Gen. 1:14-15).

Gazing at the lights of heaven on a clear night is a humbling experience. We marvel with David:

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Ps. 8:3-4).

Yet, though we’re only tiny living specks in the vast expanse of space, we are not insignificant to God. He sent His beloved Son to die for us, and He has a wonderful plan for us. To all those who put their faith in Christ He has promised “that in the ages to come He [will] show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).

And to these, the Lord’s blood-bought saints who walk in His ways, He also makes this remarkable promise:

“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).

The people of God are described as “wise,” as having spiritual understanding, and are therefore living accordingly. Part of that is by their words and conduct they’ll point others in a Godward direction. And their future destiny is to shine like the stars, to be resplendent in eternal glory. As the Lord Jesus puts it, “The righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43).

When Christ briefly revealed His heavenly glory to three of His disciples, we read, “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). It is that glory Christians will one day share. God has “called us to His eternal glory by [through] Christ Jesus” (I Pet. 5:10; cf. I Thess. 2:12). As Van DeVenter’s song puts it:

CH-1) We may tarry awhile here as strangers,
Unnoticed by those who pass by;
But the Saviour will crown us in glory,
To shine as the stars in the sky.

We shall shine as the stars of the morning,
With Jesus the Crucified One;
We shall rise to be like Him forever,
Eternally shine as the sun.

CH-2) We may never be rich in earth’s treasures,
Nor rise on the ladder of fame;
But the saints will at last be rewarded,
Made rich in Immanuel’s name.

CH-3) We may live in a tent or a cottage,
And die in seclusion alone;
But the Father who seeth in secret,
Remembers each one of His own.

1) What makes a person a “star” in Hollywood terms?

2) How does this contrast with what the Word of God describes as the destiny of the redeemed?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Oh my goodness, what a great song. I’m going to introduce it to the music team at church/ Thank you for this post.

    • Yes, it’s a lovely little song. I hope my write-up helped you to understand the meaning. Here’s a very old recording of the song from 1926 or before. A bit slow for modern tastes–though I wouldn’t like to see it rushed. God bless.


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