The Three Kings
|The Three Kings|
The Adoration of the Magi by Matthias Stom
|Native name||Die Könige|
"The Three Kings", or "Three Kings From Persian Lands Afar", is a Christmas carol by the German composer Peter Cornelius. He set "Die Könige" for a vocal soloist, accompanied by the 16th-century Epiphany hymn "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" ("How Brightly Shines the Morning Star"); in the original Cornelius setting, the accompaniment was played on a piano but the English organist Ivor Atkins later arranged the accompaniment for choir. The German words have been translated into English by H.N. Bate. The carol describes the visit of the Biblical Magi to the Infant Jesus during the Nativity and is also used as an Epiphany anthem.
Cornelius wrote the German hymn "Die Könige" in 1856 as part of Weihnachtslieder, op 8, for a solo voice and piano; he rewrote it in 1870 for soloist and chorus. The hymn was originally translated in 1916 by W. G. Rothery. The more commonly used translation, including references to the Magi being from Persian lands, was made in 1928 by H.N. Bate for the "Oxford Book of Carols". The original piano accompaniment used by Cornelius for "Die Könige", the 16th-century "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" ("How Brightly Shines the Morning Star") by Philipp Nicolai, was transcribed for choir by the organist at Worcester Cathedral, Ivor Atkins, in 1957.
"The Three Kings" was included in a Nick Hern Books adapted publication of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. In 2016, the carol was included by the head of chapel music at Winchester College, Malcolm Archer, in the 2016 publication of the Carols Ancient and Modern" hymnal.
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