Christmas Song Story: We Three Kings

Peter Cornelius, a German composer, wrote “The Three Kings” under the oritinal title “Die Könige” for a vocal soloist.

The carol describes the visit of the Biblical Magi to the Infant Jesus during the Nativity and is also used as an Epiphany anthem.  It is also known by the title “Three Kings From Persian Lands Afar”.

Cornelius wrote his first version in 1856 as part of Weihnachtslieder, a song cycle of Christmas songs.

In 1859, he composed a new version of the song for soloist and piano using the the 16th-century chorale “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (“How Brightly Shines the Morning Star”) by Philipp Nicolai in the piano accompaniment.  This version was revised before it’s 1870 publication.

W. G. Rothery translated the lyrics in 1916.  However, the more commonly used translation was made by H. N. Bate in 1928.

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