The Quest of the Magi

*This poem was originally published in the December 1970 issue.


The Quest (Matt. 2:1-11)

With glowing light the dawn doth break

O’er yonder hills; And in its wake

Majestically the sun doth rise

Casting its rays o’er land and skies.


The city stirs from slumber deep Jerusalem rouses, wakes from sleep

And soon the tread of busy feet

Are hastening on, in every street.


The cry of vendors everywhere

Sound loud and shrill on the morning air.

The busy marts are opened wide

And shoppers throng on every side.


The Roman soldiers tread their pace

To keep their watch o’er the Hebrew race

From tower and portal they closely guard

The royal city, with power of sword.


And on the throne sits Esau’s son

Herod, the vile, the crafty one,

He rules with pride o’er Israel’s race,

Contemptuous scorn upon his face.


And in yon temple, shining bright

‘Neath eastern sky, in sun’s pure light

Sit learned Pharisee and scribe

And haughty priest, from Levi’s tribe.


Clad in long robes and garments fair

They spend much time in lengthy prayer.

They love the greeting in the mart

And crave men’s honor, from the heart.


Upon this scene did come one day

A caravan from far away.

Their trappings rich were wrought with gold

A splendor glorious to behold.


They came from eastern land afar

Compelled by God, led by a star.

These learned men and lustrious sages

Had studied long from history’s pages.


The heavens and all its starry frame

Proclaimed aloud God’s glorious name

But of God’s Gracious Saving Love

They did not read in the heavens above.


Nay!  History’s pages did declare

Of all His tender love and care

His mighty power and glorious worth

Was lauded far throughout the earth.


A compassionate God His people saves

While they are laboring as slaves

With mighty power He overthrows

A wicked Pharaoh and all their foes.


With cloudy pillar He led by day

His people safely on the way

And with a fiery pillar of light

He led them through the darkest night.


Sihon, the Amorite king they slew

And Og, the king of Bashan, too

Jordan’s waters stood as a wall

And Jericho’s walls did crumble and fall.


Thus they were led to the promised land

In infinite love, by God’s own hand.

For God is not a man; He repenteth not.

And it was said of Israel; what hath God wrought?


Yea! When the enemy endeavored to curse

God caused the enchanter to utter this verse

In Jacob I behold not iniquity

Nor perverseness in Israel I see.


In exultation they shall sing

For among them is the shout of a King

Yea! A star in Jacob shall appear

And a scepter rule both far and near.


And now, the Magi have come to bring

Homage to Israel’s newborn King.

For God mysteriously did impart

Salvation’s message to their heart.


They quest from busy passers-by

Where is He born? Thy King most high?

In eastern sky we have seen His star

And have come to worship and adore.


But!  All Jerusalem is troubled at their quest

And Herod is shaken, and sore distressed.

He urgently demands from chief priest and scribe

Where must Christ be born!  Of royal tribe?


And they answered and said unto him

In the land of Judea, in Bethlehem.

For thus it was written of David’s town

Thou art Bethlehem Judah of great renown.


Thou art not least, for from thee shall come forth

A might Governor by glorious worth.

He shall rule o’er my people Israel

As long ago the prophets did foretell.


Then Herod bade the wisemen come

To commune in private, in his home.

Diligently he enquired about the Star

What time it appeared in land afar.


Then craftily saying, “God search for Him

In the land of Judea in Bethlehem

And when ye have found Him, let me know

That I may come and worship also.”


The wise men are puzzled and sad at heart

When they from the palace did depart.

Jerusalem’s indifference seems strange indeed

Why has hope faded for the promised seed?


The shadows have fallen, night is at hand

Sending darkness and gloom o’er all the land

The day is now spend; their quest unfulfilled

Their thoughts are confused; their voices are stilled.


When lo!  The Star of the east so bright

Shedding its rays of wondrous light

Doth go before them, leading them on

To where the child was; The promised One.

Their joy is unbounded.  Their faith is restored

Their hearts leap up in praise to the Lord

They hasten their step, till they come to the place

Where they had been led by the God of all grace.


They entered and saw the young little child

And Mary His mother, so meek and so mild.

They bowed down before Him and worshipped Him there

Presenting their gifts so rich and so rare.


Gold and frankincense and myrrh

Precious treasures from bounteous store

With humble hearts they have come to adore

The King of Kings; Who reigns evermore.


O! Gentile Christian, do you understand?

These noble men from far off land

Were your substitutes of worth

Representing you at Jesus’ birth.


They are the first fruits of the Gentile world

God’s gospel banner stands unfurled

He elects from all nations, peoples and race

Choosing as His own, in boundless grace.


Come kneel down before Him and worship Him now

In holy adoration, in lowliness bow

To Jesus our Saviour, our Lord and our King

In grateful acclaim His praises sing.