Advent Calendar Day 3: I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In

This song is pure joy.  The tune’s apparently descended from “Greensleeves,” and can best be described as “merry.”  The words seem to trace their descent in part from 16th-century Scotland, and they are simple, to the point, and filled with delight.  The ships may be the ones that took the relics of the magi to Cologne nine centuries ago, or then again they may be the three ships on the coat of arms of Wenceslaus II.  With the glorious medieval disregard for the fine points of historical accuracy that so endear the passion plays to me, the song describes three ships sailing into Bethlehem, which modern geography teaches us is not a port.

And all the bells on earth, and all the angels in heaven, and every human soul is joined in one glorious song.  No more divisions, no more lines drawn between one and another, no more discord nor dissonance.  No fear or anger or clash of arms.  When the King’s ship sails into port, we’ll all of us be able to sing together.

Then let us all rejoice amain!
On Christmas day! on Christmas day!
Then let us rejoice amain!
On Christmas day in the morning!


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