Gentri has released a live performance version of We Three Kings from their new Christmas album titled Season of Light:
This spirited version of We Three Kings is based on an 1857 Christmas song written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr.
Hopkins was a theologian and a priest. He composed both the music and the words to We Three Kings, breaking with longstanding 19th century tradition. The song became popular at a time when The Magi were something of a Christmas fad. It became the first American written Christmas carol to achieve widespread acclaim in the mid-19th Century.
The fact that the Magi were Biblical was not lost on either the media or the Christmas-celebrating public. They were popular in song, popular in art, popular in decorating and even popular in everyday conversation. Frequently, the Magi were the subject of sermons, newspaper articles, stage plays, Church pageants, orchestras and operas.
In fact, in an era before Rudolph, Frosty and other made-up characters of Christmas the Magi were the leading Christmas characters of the imagination.
We Three Kings was the first of several Christmas songs of the era – O Little Town of Bethlehem, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, among others – that contributed to the moral rectitude so often associated with the Victorian Era. Even in politics and business you could see the influence of the Magi as men were encouraged or identified as having a “guiding star” in their dealings.
Every 19th century Christmas season the Magi were a theme – every bit as much as A Christmas Carol.
Even though the story of the Magi comes briefly from New Testament accounts 19th century writers and scholars were not afraid to note the Old Testament references to the Magi who would come upon the birth of Christ. The Book of Isaiah, used in other musical works of praise and worship, such as Handel’s Messiah, is clearly referenced in We Three Kings.
The song was versed for three male voices – so ably demonstrated by Gentri’s performance – who in turn explain the gifts they bring and why they worship the New Born King.
It is noteworthy that Hopkins went to great lengths to convey the Magi not as mystics or magicians, as historians both then and now stretch to explain, but rather as believers who came to testify of Deity.
Gentri’s enthusiastic arrangement is more in line with the joyous message of Hopkins original song. Many modern artists tend to dramatically arrange this song with slower phrasing, which changes its message and hides the story of the Magi – which is not a tale of discovery but rather the story of a journey of faith.
We are grateful for the consistent Christmas cheer brought to us each year from Gentri.
Track List – Pre-order/Buy Season of Light
Angel We Have Heard On High
We Three Kings
The Bells Of Christmas (feat. Hailey Hyde)
Lullaby Through My Eyes (feat. Nick Petty)
Go Tell It On The Mountain (feat. Brad Wheeler)
Somewhere In Your Silent Night
A Strange Way To Save The World
I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
Mary Did You Know? (feat. Mat & Savanna Shaw)