Christmas Carols - We Three Kings

Christmas Carols - We Three Kings


We three kings of Orient are

Bearing gifts we traverse afar

Field and fountain, moor and mountain

Following yonder star


Born a king on Bethlehem's plain

Gold I'll bring to crown Him again

King forever, ceasing never

Over us all to reign


O star of wonder, star of night

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 night

Star with royal beauty bright

Westward leading, still proceeding

Guide us to thy perfect Light


“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10

“Come, let us worship and bow down,

Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

For He is our God,

And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.” Psalm 95:6-7

As a kid, this was always one of my favorite Christmas songs to sing. I liked how the rhythm of the song seemed to match the lyrics. It has a plodding rhythm that seemed to mimic the paces of the traveling kings as they ventured over “field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.”

The inspiration for this carol of course came from the story of the Magi found in Matthew 2:1-12. A couple of things to note about these verses:

1.     Matthew never specifies the number of Magi that were following the star. The number three was at some point assumed because of the number of gifts that were given to the little king Jesus. Some traditions hold that there were as many at 12 Magi.

2.     The word Magi does not necessarily translate to kings. It is a term that indicates that these men were some sort of nobility.  They may have been royalty or may have been men who held important government positions in the land from which they came.

The Magi were a band of important and impressive people. These important men traveled far from their significant positions and homes to visit this small boy in a house that was probably several levels below their standard of living. They did not think of themselves as too important for this journey. They did not take inventory of Jesus’ lowly position and status. For they believed the prophecy of Micah 5:2, that out of Bethlehem would come a ruler who would be a shepherd to Israel. Scripture tells us that “when they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” The Magi probably understood that this child was king of everything and everyone. So these rich, powerful men bowed down and worshipped this little poor boy and gave him gifts that were suitable for a high king of noble birth. Their actions conveyed that they understood who this poor boy really was and that their significance was nothing compared to that of King Jesus.

We live in a time and culture that is obsessed with mottos of “follow your heart,” “be true to yourself,” and the like. These mottos are pushed on us through media and advertisements continually. If we are not careful, we might use these standards as justification for choosing ourselves over Jesus, putting our pursuit of self above our pursuit of God. In this endeavor we run the risk of making our self the King or Queen of our life, spending much time, energy, and money on our own comfort and desires. All the while we may struggle to spend time with God in his word because we are so “busy,” or we make excuses to not spend a few moments listening to someone who needs a friend to talk to because they “drain” us, or we are hesitant to put a few dollars in the offering plate because we may not have “enough” for what we “need.” We do these things when we have placed our self on the throne of our heart, a place where only King Jesus is meant to be. When we behave in these ways we choose our self instead of doing the hard work of traversing “field and fountain, moor and mountain” to be close to Jesus and worship him.

This song reminds us to follow the true star, Jesus, rather than our own star. Whether we are following him or not, Jesus is still proceeding as King of Kings. He is still biding us to be guided by his perfect light.

This Christmas, will you continue to choose to follow our own pale light? Or will you humble yourself like the Magi, and put yourself aside to “crown him again?”

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