Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sing Christmas: Dec 20

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's 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 nigh;
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.

John Henry Hopkins 1820-1891

John Henry Hopkins, rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania wrote both words and music of this carol for a Christmas Pageant. Each of the central three verses is intended as a solo, with the singer explaining the significance of the gift he has brought and pointing to the future ministry of Jesus as “King and God and Sacrifice”.
In fact almost all of the carol is guess work, embroidering on the brief account in Matthew’s Gospel from which it is drawn. Matthew simply tells us that some (number unspecified) Magi (Zoroastrian astrologers, not Kings) come to visit Jesus, bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew’s account of the nativity, like Luke’s is really an imaginative introduction to the later ministry of Jesus and points to its main themes. Matthew tells us about these foreign visitors who recognise the presence of God in this child despite coming from a very different belief system and nationality. Matthew wants to highlight that Jesus message is for all people, whatever their background or culture. He cannot be “owned” by any one nation or group.

·         Have you ever worshipped or lived alongside others – Christian or of other faiths – whose beliefs or ways of worship are very different from yours. How did it make you feel?
·         When the Magi returned to their own lands, how do you think they might have been changed by their visit?

Bible Reading:  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3.29

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