Twelve Carols of Christmas: Twelfth Carol

The final carol has arrived!

There is in my opinion only one carol and that has to be We Three Kings by Edward John Hopkins (1818-1901)

This carol is a personal favourite of mine and I remember absolutely loving this carol as a child. It was also the first Christmas carol that I could play off by heart on the flute. I think I drove my parents crazy playing it over and over again.

 

We three kings of Orient are

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 night,

star with royal beauty bright,

westward leading, still proceeding,

guide us to thy perfect light.

 

Born a king on Bethlehem plain,

gold I bring to crown him again,

king for ever, ceasing never

over us all to reign:

 

Frankincense to offer have I,

incense owns a deity night;

prayer and praising, all men raising,

worship him, God most 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.

Heaven sings: “Alleluia’;

‘Alleluia,’ the earth replies:

 

Edward John Hopkins

 

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Friday Poetry

On the 6th January it will be Epiphany when the Kings arrive to see Jesus, so I have chosen a poem to reflect this ocassion. This is also one of my favourites that I did at school.

Journey of the Magi

“A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:

The ways deep and the weathers sharp,

The very dead of winter.”

And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,

Lying down in the melting snow.

There were times we regretted

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling

And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,

And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,

And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly

And the villages dirty and charging high prices:

A hard time we had of it.

At the end we preferred to travel all night,

Sleeping in snatches,

With the voices singing in our ears, saying

That this was all folly.

 

 

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,

Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation, 

With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,

And three trees on the low sky.

And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.

Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,

And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.

But there was no information, so we continued

And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon

Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

 

 

All this was a long time ago, I remember, 

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we led all that way for

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was 

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.

 

T. S. Eliot

 

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