Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thoughts on the Three Kings

Today is the feast of the three kings, also known as the Epiphany, celebrating the arrival of the three wise men who came to see the newborn Jesus. I knew I would need to cover this yesterday in the fourth grade CCD class I teach. CCD is religious education for Catholic students who attend public school. I teach the class for several reasons including the facts that the program depends on volunteers, it gives me an opportunity to meet my kids' peers, and I have a hole to fill in my resume. My background is in teaching English, and I delight in situations where I get to use it while teaching CCD, such as when a student asked me if God actually used words like "thou" and "shalt" when issuing the ten commandments. I'll be honest, sometimes I sneak literature in there as well. I love when I have an appropriate story or poem to share with the class. Tomie de Paola's beautiful Clown of God was perfect to read before Christmas and really got the kids talking, and yesterday I was happy to read Langston Hughes' poem "Carol of the Brown King" with them:

Of the three Wise Men
Who came to the King,
One was a brown man,
So they sing.
Of the three Wise Men
Who followed the Star,
One was a brown king
From afar.
They brought fine gifts
Of spices and gold
In jeweled boxes
Of beauty untold.
Unto His humble
Manger they came
And bowed their heads
In Jesus’ name.
Three wise men,
One dark like me-
Part of His

It was fun to spend a few minutes talking about rhyme and point of view. Speaking of fun, I didn't lecture them on parody, but I could have with a little ditty my Aunt Mary Alice and Uncle Peter taught me decades ago that begins "We three kings of orient are, smoking on a rubber cigar. It was loaded. It exploded..." I've included the music to the original below in case you care to sing it. I didn't teach it though, as I felt the lovely and dedicated nun who runs the religious education program at our church might not appreciate it. Not that she doesn't have a sense of humor. In fact, she shared a cute joke with me last year about how things would be different had it been three wise women visiting the Holy Family. They would have asked for directions, arrived on time, and at least brought a casserole.

If you are someone who celebrates this day by looking for a trinket in your slice of cake or a treat in your shoe, I hope you find it.

1 comment:

Ginny Marie said...

I have never read that poem before. It's a good one for sharing with kids! Our tradition is to take down the Christmas tree on Epiphany, but I didn't have the heart to do it yet. Maybe tomorrow!