Mr. Hopkins: “We Three Kings”

“We Three Kings of Orient Are”

The Christmas Carol

It was written by John Henry Hopkins, the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport. He composed his famous carol, for a Christmas pageant, in 1857 but it didn’t appear in print until his Carols, Hymns and Songs was published in 1863.

Most of us know the first few lines, but take the time to read them all, it’s quite an effective telling of the story.

We three kings of orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown him again;
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshiping God Most High.

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia!,
Earth to Heaven replies.

Not To Be Tedious, But…

We don’t know how many wise men came, and they weren’t kings, but highly educated men who were philosophers, theologians, astronomers, astrologers, educators, and travelers. They counseled kings. They were somewhere between a President’s cabinet and a Supreme Court. Their knowledge of the coming Messiah likely emanated from Daniel, knowledge the Magi passed down through their generations until the time came.

The Magi were powerful, influential, and carried great authority. They weren’t Jewish, but Gentile, of Arab descent. Those gentile amabassadors traveled hundreds of miles to worship and to proclaim that Jesus was the King of the Jews. Think of it as a grand announcement, informing the world the savior had come. He was Emanuel, God with us.


To Close

It’s quite a story. It’s quite a song. Thank you Mr. Hopkins for writing such a wonderful Christmas carol!

“We Three Kings of Orient Are”

Merry Christmas

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