“The Three Kings” by George Mackay Brown

The following Epiphany carol by one of the great Scots poets George Mackay Brown was apparently set to music by one of the great American folk musicians Pete Seeger. I cannot find the tune or any evidence of it outside of the book The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown edited by Bevan and Murray. If anyone can find the chords and tune or a recording of it I would greatly appreciate you telling me where to find it.

They’re looking for what, the three kings,
Beyond their border?
A new Kingdom, peace and truth and love,
Justice and order.

One was black and one was brown
And one was yellow.
A star crooked its jewelled finger.
The three kings follow.

How did they fare, the three kings?
Where did they dine?
They lived on a crust or two
And sour wine.

One was yellow and one was black
And one was brown.
They passed a scorched and rutted plain
And a broken town.

Whom did they meet, the three kings,
Among the thorns?
Herod’s captains hunting
With dogs and horns.

One was brown and one was yellow
And one was black.
Here’s what they found, a refugee bairn
Wrapped in a sack.

What did they do, the three kings,
When they got home?
In Vietnam, Rhodesia, Kashmir, troubled they bide
Till the Kingdom come.

George Mackay Brown in Stromness, Orkney Islands, Scotland. Image from Orkney.com


About azlewis

I'm an academic living in the poorest neighbourhood in Canada. I also teach at a local seminary.
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