Three Kings of Orient Are
Kenneth W. Osbeck
-- Each of the participants involved with Christ's birth-Mary and Joseph, the
inn keeper, the angels, shepherds, and wise men-has much to teach us.
there is no scriptural basis for stating dogmatically that there were three wise
men, the fact that three distinct gifts are mentioned has given rise to this traditional
idea. Master artists throughout the centuries have depicted three wise men on
camels as one of their favorite nativity themes.
number of wise men is not important, but the fact that they persisted in following
the light that was given them until they found the object of their search, that
they responded in worship, and that they returned home to share their experience
with others all has much to tell us. Also, the gifts presented to the Christ child
were both significant and appropriate: gold, symbolic of His kingly reign; frankincense,
symbolic of His priestly ministry; myrrh, symbolic of our redemption through His
death. How important it is that our gifts of love and Devotion be offered to Christ
after we have first found Him and then have bowed in true adoration before Him.
The author and composer of this well-known Christmas
hymn was an Episcopalian minister from Pennsylvania. John H. Hopkins has been
credited with contributing much to the development of music in his denomination
during the nineteenth century, writing a number of fine hymns and hymn tunes.
One of his publications, Carols, Hymns and Songs, enjoyed four editions.
three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain,
moor and mountain, following yonder star.
a King on Bethlehem's plain, gold I bring to crown Him again,
ceasing never over us all to reign.
to offer have I, incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, all men raising,
worship Him, God on high.
Myrrh is mine; its
bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding,
dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
now behold Him arise, King and God and Sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia! Earth
to heav'n replies.
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