We Three Kings", also known as "We Three Kings of Orient Are" or "The Quest of the Magi", is a Christmas hymn that was penned by John Henry Hopkins Jr. in 1857. This hymn depicts the journey of the three Kings, or wise men, who traveled to see newborn savior Jesus and famously brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Discover the lyrics and story of this amazing hymn as well as video performances below!
1 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.
2 Born a King on Bethlehem's plain,
gold I bring to crown him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
over us all to reign. [Refrain]
3 Frankincense to offer have I;
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising, voices raising,
worshiping God on high. [Refrain]
4 Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb. [Refrain]
5 Glorious now behold him arise;
King and God and sacrifice:
sounds through the earth and skies. [Refrain]
Source: United Methodist Hymnal, 1989
The Story Behind We Three Kings Of Orient Are
At the time of creating "We Three Kings," Hopkins worked as the pastor of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and he composed the hymn for a Christmas pageant in New York City. Many versions of this song have been produced and it continues a very beloved Christmas carol.
John Henry Hopkins Jr. designed the hymn in such a way that three male voices would each sing a particular verse by himself in order to resemble the three kings. The first and last verses of the carol are sung together by all three as "verses of praise", while the intermediate verses are sung exclusively with each king explaining the gift he was bringing. The refrain progresses to admire the majesty of the Star of Bethlehem. Now, though, the Magi's solos are usually not recognized when singing the carol.
Collection of Popular Christmas Hymns and Carols:
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
The First Noel
Joy To The World
O Holy Night
Hark The Herald Angels Sing
O Come All Ye Faithful
Go Tell It On The Mountain
What Child Is This
O Little Town of Bethlehem
We Three Kings of Orient Are