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Sheet Music: We Three Kings of Orient Are

TitleWe Three Kings of Orient Are
Alternate titlesWe Three Kings
The Quest of the Magi
ComposerJohn Henry Hopkins, Jr. (1820–1891)
InstrumentationFlute trio
KeyE minor
RangeC4–D6
Time signature3/8
Tempo60 BPM
Performance time1:20
Difficulty leveleasy
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (51 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (4 kB) MP3 (962 kB)
Play-along accompanimentMIDI (2 kB) MP3 (985 kB)
Date added2009-12-16
Last updated2009-12-16
CategoriesChristmas carols, Hymn tunes

Performances

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Wednesday 16 December 2009

Tune of the Day: We Three Kings of Orient Are

Christmas carol by John Henry Hopkins, Jr.

Both the lyrics and the music of “We Three Kings” were written by Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr. as part of a Christmas pageant for the General Theological Seminary in New York City, where he was instructor in church music. While the carol is suggested to have been written in 1857, it did not appear in print until 1863. Hopkins composed the song in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where he was a pastor at Christ Episcopal Church. Researcher William Studwell reports that his purpose was to devise a special Christmas present for his beloved nephews and nieces during his annual holiday trip to his father's home in Vermont.

Notable recordings of this carol include those by The Beach Boys, Burl Ives, Patti Smith and John Rutter.

A brief note on the Magi: the Gospel of Matthew is the only biblical reference to the “Three Kings”, and it really just says that some “wise men from the east” visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gold, incense and myrrh as gifts. Because three gifts were recorded, there are traditionally said to have been three Magi; however, Matthew does not specify their number, nor their names.