We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.
Chorus: O star of wonder, star of light,
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.
Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshipping God on high.
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.
Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Sounds through the earth and skies.
--John H. Hopkins, Jr., 1857
Each gift was chosen for a reason—an illustration of the Messiah's identity and mission: He is a King, He is God, and He is our sacrifice. The Bible doesn't tell us how many men there were or who chose the gifts, but I love the idea this hymn suggests: perhaps each man choose a costly gift that he found meaningful. And then, though they each made a personal sacrifice, they shared the journey with each other.