A Sonnet for Epiphany

these three arrive and bring us with them

The Feast of the Epiphany falls on the 6th of January but many churches will celebrate it tomorrow, on Sunday the 5th, so I am posting this sonnet of mine a little early, as a little extra in addition to the extracts from my Advent anthology Waiting on the Word, in case any churches would like to make use of it in tomorrow’s services.

Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the three wise men at the manger in Bethlehem has a special mystery and joy to it. Until now the story of the coming Messiah has been confined to Israel, the covenant people, but here suddenly, mysteriously, are three Gentiles who have intuited that his birth is good new for them too. Here is an Epiphany, a revelation, that the birth of Christ is not  one small step for a local religion but a great leap  for all mankind. I love the way that traditionally the three wise men (or kings) are shown as representing the different races and cultures and languages of the world. I love the combination in their character of diligence and joy. They ‘seek diligently’, but they ‘rejoice with exceeding great joy’! I love the way they loved and followed a star, but didn’t stop at the star, but rather let the star lead them to something beyond itself. Surely that is a pattern for all wise contemplation of nature whether in art or science. The last line of this poem is a little nod in the direction of Tennyson’s great poem Ulysses

This sonnet is drawn from my book Sounding the Seasons, which is available from Amazon etc or by order from your local bookshop, should you be lucky enough to have one.

As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears, or by clicking on the title of the poem which will take you to the audioboo page.


It might have been just someone else’s story,
Some chosen people get a special king.
We leave them to their own peculiar glory,
We don’t belong, it doesn’t mean a thing.
But when these three arrive they bring us with them,
Gentiles like us, their wisdom might be ours;
A steady step that finds an inner rhythm,
A  pilgrim’s eye that sees beyond the stars.
They did not know his name but still they sought him,
They came from otherwhere but still they found;
In temples they found those who sold and bought him,
But in the filthy stable, hallowed ground.
Their courage gives our questing hearts a voice
To seek, to find, to worship, to rejoice.



Filed under christianity

14 responses to “A Sonnet for Epiphany

  1. But when these three arrive they bring us with them,
    Gentiles like us, their wisdom might be ours;
    A steady step that finds an inner rhythm,
    A pilgrim’s eye that sees beyond the stars. But when these three arrive they bring us with them
    Advent & Epiphany,,,the seasons which mean the most to me; since I believe we need always to be in wakefulness, expectation, preparing the way for goodness & love to be recognized in each of us…then, when discovered both the inner birth and outer acts of compassion, to commit to manifesting in lives of justice & generous-spirited inclusion of all that is. Being light to our part of the world as we face the darkness with new resolve, accompanied by that Mystery which as Sacred Presence enlivens and reveals the way.

  2. contemprisma

    Thank you for pointing out that right from the beginning Jesus accepted the Gentiles. The message given in sonnet form resonates with the seriousness of the occasion. This poem is one of my favorites.

  3. Dolores F Wiens

    Please note my new email address above. The previous address, revdfw@gmail will no longer work; I have closed my gmail account. Thank you.

    Dolores Wiens

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks. If you put your new email address I bro the email subscribe box on the right hand panel then you will keep receiving the blog. The system doesn’t permit me to do that for you, so you need to do it from your own browser

  4. Emma Bresslaw

    Yes, indeed, Guite at his height!! Xxx

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Jim Hinshaw

    “filthy stable” even as dramatic is ugly. Love this otherwise.

  6. George C. Roberts

    Lovely and powerful sonnet, evoking the mystery of what drives us “beyond the stars” and, at the same time, reminding us that what we seek is more than mystery: it is real, profound, and within our grasp because of what God has done, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

  7. Virginia Dixon

    Thanks for sharing this.

  8. David C Brown

    Wonderful to see how from the beginning we have glimpses of what will be God’s end. I suppose Luke as a Gentile appreciated that the middle wall had been broken down, Ephesians 2: 14.

  9. Heather H. Glerum

    Some sources claim that the three wise men were, in fact, Zoroastrians, an ancient religion still practised today.

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