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The same criticism applies to another popular song, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," the first stanza of which has the line, "Remember Christ our Savior Was born on Christmas Day," and any other song that mentions the word, "Christmas."
"We Three Kings"
This popular song depicts the gifts given the baby Jesus by the wise men, referred to as "kings" in the song. What does the Bible say about these men? Were they "kings," and were there "three of them?"
The Bible does not say how many of them are. They are simply described as "wise men" in Matthew 2:1, 7, and 16. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica write:
Eastern tradition sets the number of Magi at 12, but Western tradition sets their number at three, probably based on the three gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11) presented to the infant.
We do not know how many wise men there were. There may have been three, two or twelve, or any other plural number. The article states that the number, three, is "probably based on the three gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew does say in Matthew 2:11 that the wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But that does not mean there were three wise men, a gift from each one. Maybe, maybe not.
As number three is a possibility for the wise men, the criticism is not the tradition. The problem is, the songs with number three have been around so long, and sung so often, that many have come to believe that the Bible says there were actually three. That is not good. Each Christian must study God's word and learn what it teaches. Given the misleading nature of the songs, it may be better not to sing them.
Were these wise men "kings?" The Greek word translated, wise men, is magos {mag'-os}, a word which describes an ancient group of men who were, according to Thayer, "teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers, sorcerers etc." As they took note of an unusual star and followed it to its eventual conclusion indicates that they were astrologers. These men might have been familiar with Balaam's prophecy of the star out of Jacob (Nu 24:17), from which the Jews had come to expect a star as a sign of the birth of the Messiah (See ISBE, Magi, The). So, they were likely not "kings."
"O Come All Ye Faithful and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
Two of this writer's favorite songs of the birth of Jesus are "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". These two songs are Biblically accurate and depict the reasons why Jesus came to earth - to take away our sins (Matt. 1:21) and reconcile us to God (2 Cor. 5:18-19). They also urge the singers and hearers to honor and glorify the Savior. Certainly, to be faithful to Him is a worthy goal (Rev. 2:10)!
(Continued on Page 4).

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