I love Epiphany because it gives me an excuse to leave my Christmas decorations up for two extra weeks and keep playing Christmas music in my car, at home, and at church! This year, I especially like it because I have an arrangement of “We Three Kings of Orient Are” for piano; and as I have already told several people, I may not play the organ for a few months now that we have the new Steinway!
Joking aside, I think the timing is quite serendipitous. This week, we focus on the journey the Magi made to visit Jesus in order to present their generous gifts and to worship him. Our church has been so blessed by the generosity of the gift of this brand new piano by the Herrings. In turn, I am thrilled with the opportunity to present gifts of worship through music back to God. There is nothing that brings more satisfaction than being able to use the gifts God has given in order to return praise to God!
During the offertory this week, I will play the aforementioned setting of “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” Keeping in mind from where the wise men came as well as their destination – where Jesus’s family lived, I sought to blend elements of traditional Oriental and Middle Eastern musical sounds in this arrangement. I also wanted to tell a story through the music.
The story begins in the distance. The music is faint and plodding as the Magi begin their journey. The pace is a bit slower than most are used to hearing and singing this carol, and that is to portray the long distance of the trek. The piece climaxes as the destination is reached. The visitors worship young Jesus and offer their gifts. This is followed by a softer, more reflective passage to reflect a more reverent state of worship. Finally the wise men begin their journey home, and the music grows distant once again.