The outstanding hymn that we enjoy singing around Christmas describes 3 wisemen (Kings). In reality, the Bible never said there were 3 wisemen. There could have been only 2 or even 4 or 5. This is an example of repeating a song/myth so often that we come to believe it.
John H. Hopkins, Jr (1820 – 1891) was an American clergyman and hymnodist. After he graduated from General Theological Seminary, he was the seminary’s first music teacher. He composed “We Three Kings” (1857) as part of a Christmas pageant for his nieces and nephews. Americans conclude that there were three wise men based primarily on this hymn.
We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.
Refrain: 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 forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign. Refrain
Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshiping God on high. Refrain
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorr’wing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb. Refrain
Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Sounds through the earth and skies.