Christmas, Day 12

LOOK: 3 Kings by Helen Siegl

Siegl, Helen_Three Kings
Helen Siegl (Austrian American, 1924–2009), 3 Kings, n.d. Etching and collagraph, 3 × 5 in. (7.6 × 12.7 cm).

Ah, such whimsy!

LISTEN: “We Three Cool Kings” | Words and music by John H. Hopkins, 1857 | Arranged by Eugene Gwozdz, 2015 | Sung by Alan H. Green, Mykal Kilgore, Dennis Stowe, Nili Bassman, Josh Davis, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Linda Mugleston, Brian O’Brien, Mary Michael Patterson, Mike Schwitter, and Rashidra Scoti on Broadway’s Carols for a Cure, vol. 17, 2015

We three kings of Orient are;
bearing gifts, we traverse afar,
field and fountain, moor and mountain,
following yonder star.

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 most 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:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
sounds through the earth and skies.

This jazzified version of the Christmas classic “We Three Kings” is performed by the Broadway cast of At This Performance… Written in the voices of the magi (whose traditional names are Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar), it propounds the symbolic significance of the three gifts they give to the Christ child. I love how the arranger has layered those middle three verses!

Launched in 1999, Carols for a Cure is an annual collection of seasonal songs sung by members of the Broadway and Off-Broadway theater community to raise money for the charity Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. Its latest volume, number 21, was released in 2019.

My Father’s House (Artful Devotion)

Siegl, Helen_Rejoice and Be Glad
Helen Siegl (Austrian, 1924–2009), Rejoice & Be Glad, 1974. Color woodcut, 30 × 30 cm. Edition of 50. Sacred Art Pilgrim Collection.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

—John 14:1–3

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SONG: “Come and Go with Me to My Father’s House” | Traditional African American | Performed under the musical direction of Dr. Markanthony Henry (on piano), with soloist Caterina Finocchi, at Iglesia Presbiteriana San Andrés (Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 28, 2012

[Related posts: “‘As the bridegroom rejoices over his bride . . .’ (Artful Devotion)”; “Let Jesus Lead You (Artful Devotion)”]

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Art collector John A. Kohan has a wonderful biographical write-up about Helen Siegl on his website, Sacred Art Pilgrim—not to mention a select compilation of her art.

A devout Catholic all her life, Siegl was born in Vienna and was a teenager at the time of the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany). After the traumatic years of World War II and during the Soviet occupation of her home country, she emigrated to Canada in 1952. She got married and settled in Philadelphia, where her husband served as conservator of paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She raised eight children with him while also working as a printmaker—mostly woodcuts and linocuts. Her style blends elements of folk art and German expressionism, and her themes were often biblical.


This post belongs to the weekly series Artful Devotion. If you can’t view the music player in your email or RSS reader, try opening the post in your browser.

To view all the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, cycle A, click here.