We Three Kings

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

Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshipping God on high.
O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.
O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Sounds through the earth and skies.
O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Words and Music by John H Hopkins, Jr., 1857

 


Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
Matthew 2:1 – 12

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
John 18:37

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each.”
Exodus 30:34

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.
John 19:38 – 40

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many
Mark 10:45

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
1 Corinthians 15:20 – 21


 

January 6 is a holiday that is not necessarily recognized by time off like Christmas, but around the world it is a holiday that has played a great role in the history of Christendom. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition it is Christmas Eve. The night leading into the Feast of the Nativity. But for the western churches, both Catholic and Protestant, who changed from the use of the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar it represents Epiphany (The revelation of Christ to the gentile world). This revelation is represented in the visit of the Magi to Jesus as recorded in Matthew 2, which Leads to the other name it is known by, Three Kings Day. But it is the truth of this revelation, of this visit that is found in John H. Hopkins, Jr.’s hymn, “We Three Kings.”

The hymn begins with the words, “We three kings of Orient are.” Now the exact origin of the Magi is not given but we find in Matthew 2:2 that the Magi said to the palace officials “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

The Magi came from a land to the east of Israel, where they had been when they had seen the star when it appeared. Quite likely, they were from somewhere in Persia as the name Magi comes from a Persian word that refers to Zoroastrian priest or astrologers. People who would have been considered wise and learned in their lands.

The hymn continues by discussing that they had traveled a great distance, “Following yonder star.” This is a direct reference to Matthew 2:9 which tells us that “After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.” This star had guided them to Jesus from their homeland all the way to Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:5 – 6)

The hymn goes on to discuss the three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh, (Matthew 2:11) which the Magi brought to give to this new-born King of the Jews. (Matthew 2:2) These gifts where items worthy of a King. Each having a great value and importance. But beyond the initial meaning can be found a deeper symbolic and spiritual meaning for who Jesus was and what he would do.

First the hymns says, “Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain, Gold I bring to crown Him again.” Jesus was and is a King. John 18:37, tells us that in Jesus final days, “Pilate said to Him, ‘So You are a king?’ Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king.” By his own testimony, Jesus identified himself as a King. A truth that was revealed to the Magi, when they saw the star. The Gold therefore serves as a reminder of Christ sovereignty.

The hymn goes on to say, “Frankincense to offer have I; Incense owns a Deity nigh.” Frankincense was an incense used in many religious ceremonies. We read in Exodus 30:34 that the Lord told Moses, “Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each.” Frankincense was used to worship God and here can serve to remind us that he was not simply a King, but was God himself. A truth that was prophesied in Isaiah 9:6 where we read, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” God himself had come into the world to dwell among us. (John 1:14)

The hymn goes on to say, “Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume. Breathes a life of gathering gloom. Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, Sealed in the stone cold tomb.” Myrrh was used in ancient times for a variety of reasons; as a perfume, and anointing oil and for embalming.” We find it specifically mentioned later on in relation to Jesus burial when we read in John 19:39 – 40, “Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen.” From the gift of myrrh we find a reminder of why Christ had come. He came into the world “to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) He came to die in our place.

The hymn concludes by looking forward to the glory that Jesus would one day embody. It says, “Glorious now behold Him arise; King and God and sacrifice.” We are remind that this Child was God-With-us, that he was born a King and that he would sacrifice his life for all who believe. This Jesus would rise glorious and triumphant over sin and death. As 1 Corinthians 15:20 – 21 tells us, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.”

“King and God and Sacrifice.” Those who know him, call him each of these. Those who believe in him understand that he alone can open the door to forgiveness. So we seek after him, to know him more and more. So we cry out to him to “Guide us to thy perfect light.”

 

 

Read more about “We Three Kings.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s