Christmas Songs #8: We three kings

For poetry, just about nothing beats We Three Kings. Now you’re going to say I’m inconsistent, because I’m going to heap praises on this song, even though a lot of it is not found in the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t say the wise men were “kings.” The Bible doesn’t say there were even three of them. (There were three gifts.) All of that stuff was invented in the Middle Ages.

But, I plead “not guilty” to being inconsistent, because at least this non-Biblical song uses the folklore to clearly tell the story of the Bible.

The structure is wonderful. The first verse introduces the three wise men, the next three verses are spoken by each of the wise men respectively, and the last verse is sung by all. The core of the meaning is the three gifts:

GOLD - to represent that Jesus Christ the man was born as the rightful King of Israel and also of all mankind
FRANKINCENSE - i.e. Incense, to burn, representing that Jesus Christ is also God
MYRRH - the burial spice of the Israelites (see John 19.39), to represent that he came to die on the cross.

The last verse doesn’t leave him in the tomb, but celebrates his resurrection, while repeating the meaning of the three gifts (King and God and Sacrifice). This song really tells the message of the Gospel: Jesus Christ, both God and Man, dying as a sacrifice, and rising again from the grave. The Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus of this song.

(To hear the song, click the link or paste into your browser. Finally, where it says “Don’t have a Rhapsody account?”, push “Play Now.”)

Lyrics (

We 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.


Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshipping 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.


Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Sounds through the earth and skies.


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