~~January 5, 2015~~
“We Three Kings“, also known as “We Three Kings of Orient Are” or “The Quest of the Magi“, is a Christmas carol that was written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., in 1857. At the time of composing the carol, Hopkins served as the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and he wrote the carol for a Christmas pageant in New York City.
It remains one of the most popular and most frequently sung Christmas carols today.
“For some Puerto Ricans, that’s merely a prelude to what they feel is really the important day of the marathon Christmas Season in Puerto Rico. I should point out that the Three Kings, or Los Reyes Magos, are not only venerated in Puerto Rico but throughout the Latin World.
The Kings, or Wise Men, certainly present a more spiritual and faithful representation of the birth of Christ than an once-obscure saint who came to be known as Santa Claus and who was squeezed into his signature red suit by the Coca-Cola Company.
But why are they such an important part of Puerto Rican culture and customs?
Regardless of faith, most Americans know the story, or at least, know of the story, of the Three Kings. As my venerable colleague and About Christianity Guide, Mary Fairchild, explains, we don’t know a whole lot about the Magi (which doesn’t mean magic-trick magicians but rather a general term for astrologers, seers, and fortunetellers). In their sole appearance in the Gospel of Matthew, they are never named, and hail from “the east.” (The names we have come to know them by — Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar — were handed to them much later on.) The most well-known thing about them, of course, is that they came bearing gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
On the night Christ was born, the were drawn by a “mysterious light” which became a star that hung in the western sky. The followed this sign to Bethlehem, where they arrived (a little late) to honor Christ’s birth. In fact, the “12 Days of Christmas,” which is so often believed to end on December 25, actually begins on the 25th and runs through January 6, culminating with the Feast of Epiphany, or “The Adoration of the Magi.”
Three Kings Day, or Epiphany, is one of the most important holidays on the Puerto Rican calendar. Traditionally, the island, and most of the Latin world, marked the eve of January 6 as the day to exchange presents rather than December 25. Kids would also gather grass, hay or straw in shoe-boxes for the Magi’s horses or camels — a charming alternative to cookies and milk for Santa.
Traditionally, you’ll find carvings and artwork of the three kings on horses instead of camels; that’s because the country folk in years past didn’t know what a camel was.”
“As it appears in … full read”
~We Three Kings of Orient Are~
The Robert Shaw Chorale
Published on Dec 22, 2013
Classic Christmas Carol with Lyrics
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