Why such gifts?

We Three Kings of Orient Are* would have been a great carol to sing in my ESL class this month, for it carries great teaching about this part of the Christmas story. My ladies, all from another religious background, wanted to understand why these wise men would bring such gifts to the newborn king. I told them that we would talk more about it the next week.

While I did later share the meaning behind the gifts, I love the way Mr. Hopkins put it all in one simple song.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain: God 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, All men raising, Worship Him, God on high.

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom–Sorr’wing, sighing, bleeding, dying, Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Yes, gold for a king, frankincense for a god, and myrrh for a death foretold. All gifts with meaning. Just another reminder that our God is a god of details.

I wish I had simply sung this song to my students, for again in the final verse, he brings us to worship as the wise men did that night:

Glorious now behold Him arise: King and God and Sacrifice; Alleluia, Alleluia! Earth to heav’n replies. 

O star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect light.

As you look at the stars at night, the stars on the Christmas trees and lights everywhere, may you be drawn to God’s perfect Light this season … and worship Him. Jesus.

Merry Christmas

*WORDS and MUSIC: John Henry Hopkins, Jr, 1820-1891.


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