Tune of the Day: We Three Kings of Orient Are
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.