Scripture Verse

Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? Matthew 2:1–2

Introduction

illustration
Shrine of the Three Kings
Cologne Cathedral, Germany

Words: Eu­gene Field (1850–1895).

Music: Pa­ter Om­ni­um Hen­ry J. E. Holmes, 1875 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune:

portrait
Eugene Field
(1850–1895)

Background

Tra­di­tion says Em­press He­le­na, mo­ther of Con­stan­tine, dis­cov­ered the bones of the Three Wise Men dur­ing her fa­mous pil­grim­age to Pal­es­tine and the Ho­ly Lands.

She took the re­mains to the church of Ha­gia So­phia in Con­stan­ti­no­ple (now Is­tan­bul, Tur­key).

They were lat­er moved to Mi­lan, It­a­ly, and fin­al­ly to their cur­rent rest­ing place in Co­logne Ca­thed­ral, Ger­ma­ny, by Ho­ly Ro­man Em­per­or Fred­er­ick I in 1164.

Lyrics

From out Cologne there came three kings
To worship Jesus Christ, their king.
To Him they sought, fine herbs they brought,
And many a beauteous golden thing;
They brought their gifts to Bethlehem town,
And in that manger set them down.

Then spake the first king, and he said:
O Child, most heavenly, bright, and fair!
I bring this crown to Bethlehem town
For Thee, and only Thee, to wear;
So give a heavenly crown to me
When I shall come at last to Thee!

The second, then. I bring Thee here
This royal robe, O Child!
he cried;
Of silk ’tis spun, and such an one
There is not in the world beside;
So in the day of doom requite
Me with a heavenly robe of white!

The third king gave his gift, and quoth:
Spikenard and myrrh to Thee I bring,
And with these twain would I most fain
Anoint the body of my king;
So may their incense sometime rise
To plead for me in yonder skies!

Thus spake the three kings of Cologne,
That gave their gifts, and went their way;
And now kneel I in prayer hard by
The cradle of the Child today;
Nor crown, nor robe, nor spice I bring
As offering unto Christ, my king.

Yet have I brought a gift the Child
May not despise, however small;
For here I lay my heart today,
And it is full of love to all.
Take Thou the poor but loyal thing,
My only tribute, Christ, my king!