The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Quest Of The Three Kings

First Line: From Silver Gates Of Ecbatoun

Words: Very Rev. C. W. Stubbs, D. D.

Music: T. Tertius Noble
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: Carol #471, Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916)

1. From silver gates of Ecbatoun, [1]
O camel bells across the sand!
King Gaspar rides in golden crown
To seek his King in Judah land;
With orient pearls and gem wrought rings
His slaves are laden with the store;
He rides apace; the King of kings
Shall have his homage evermore.
O filii et filiae,
Sing "Christe Rex sanctissime!"

2. On mystic Egypt's great highway,
Clang oars a-down the old Nile stream!
Balthasar sleeps, his boatmen gay
Break with their songs the speel of dream;
O'er moonlit waters flashed a Thing
Star sign of birth: "I go," he saith,
"To seek my chief; the world's true King
Shall hear my homage and my faith."
O filii et filiae,
Sing, "Ex Egypto parvule!"

3. From towers of silent Ipsobar,
O signal fires across the plain!
Sage Melchoir sights the magic Star
Which tells how kingdoms wax and wane;
How Power and Might are passing things
And only Wisdom heaven's true breath:
So forth he fares; the King of kings
Shall have his homage unto death.
O filii et filiae,
Sing "Stella Sapientiae!"

4. Three kings they came star-led of yore,
O angel-song across the snow!
Balthasar, Gaspar, Melchior,
To seek the King of Kings, and lo!
O'er Bethlehem fields by God's good grace
The Pilgrim-star is stayed, and there
In childhood's guise they see the Face
Of Him the altogether Fair.
O filii et filiae,
Sing "Jesu dilectissime!"

5. The quest is found, they kneel them down,
O Christmas bells across the sea!
A little child their King they own,
Of lofty, lowly mystery!
And gold for kingship, myrrh for pain,
O by those mystic emblems deign,
Jesu, that we by Thee may live!
O filii et filiae,
Sing "Gloria tibi Domine!"

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Sheet Music from Charles L. Hutchins

Quest_Of_The_Three_Kings_471.gif (203161 bytes)

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1. Possibly Ecbatana, capital of ancient Media (later: Persia; now: Iran), later the summer residence of Achaemenid and Parthian kings, beautifully situated at the foot of Mt. Elvend and NE of Behistun. In 549 B.C. it was captured by Cyrus the Great. It possessed a royal treasury and was plundered in turn by Alexander, Seleucus, and Antiochus III. The site has never been thoroughly excavated, since it is covered by the modern city, Hamadan, Iran, where the traditional tomb of Esther is still honored by the Jewish community. Ecbatana was the Achmetha of Ezra 6.2 and the Apocrypha. It is also called Hangmatana. Source: The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition (2001), quoted at Return

I have been unable to determine the meaning for the reference to "Ipsobar" (verse 3). Since it is linked to Melchoir, King of Nubia [modern Ethiopia] and Arabia, and as it references the "towers of silent Ipsobar", we might infer that it was a city previously found in that area of the world.

Also see: Concerning The Magi And Their Names

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