Although less familiar than “We three kings” with its “Star of wonder …” refrain, Die Könige, Richard Kindersley’s choice for a carol that above all he associates with Christmas, has words by Peter Cornelius, a Weimar poet and composer, and was sung by Marc Tempelhoff and the choir at our Sunday@Six carol service.
Three Kings from Persian lands afar
To Jordan follow the pointing star:
And this the quest of the travellers three,
Where the new-born King of the Jews may be.
Full royal gifts they bear for the King;
Gold, incense, myrrh are their offering.
The poem is sung by the soloist, while the choir sings a version of Nicolai’s Epiphany hymn Wie schön leutet der Morgenstern, “How brightly shines the morning star, with grace and truth from heaven afar”.
As Kindersley puts it: the third verse “finishes beautifully, the soloist singing ‘Offer thy heart to the infant King, Offer thy heart’, with a sweetly high second ‘heart’, while the choir are singing ‘Praise, O praise such love o’erflowing’, tugging at the strings”. It’s a challenging poem! [For the full text, with its accompanying chorale, go to this link]
“Gold, incense, myrrh thou canst not bring”, but you can join us as we worship the infant King.