Feast of the Epiphany: A Calendar of Kings


Adoration of the Magi © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany: Matthew 2.1-12

A blessed Epiphany to you! During the season that has brought us to this feast day, one of the CDs I’ve been listening to is Wolcum Yule: Celtic and British Songs and Carols by the wondrous vocal group Anonymous 4. My favorite piece on this CD is “A Calendar of Kings,” which began as a poem by George Mackay Brown, the prolific poet of Orkney (in northern Scotland) who died a dozen years ago. The poem’s musical setting was composed by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, whose composition honors and evokes the haunting enchantment of Mackay Brown’s words. In the liner notes, Maxwell Davies comments, “From the imagery, with ice, snowdrops, and daffodils, it is clear that the journey lasts a season, and that the poet has transplanted the setting from the Middle East to his native land and seascape in Orkney, bringing the nativity home in a very vivid way.”

Copyright considerations prevent me from including the entire text of “A Calendar of Kings” here, but here’s an Epiphany treat: you can find the poem by visiting this page on a site devoted to George Mackay Brown. As a lovely bonus, the page includes several pieces from a textile art series whose creators drew their inspiration from this poem. Think of the page as an Epiphany card to you, fashioned by folks who brought their creative eyes and souls to this story of wise ones who dared to undertake a rather strange trip to welcome the God who was born among us.

The image above (slightly cropped for today’s purpose) is from my series The Advent Hours. I wrote this to accompany the artwork:

Pondering the patterns of the heavens, the wise ones found one star, one light that called to them, compelled them, set them on the road. And they came, arriving upon the star-drenched landscape where dwelled the hope of the world in the garb of a child. They stretched out their hands to him, the brilliance of the sky now shimmering in their exquisite gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

I’m taking a bit of time off this week but am aiming to have a reflection on Epiphany 1/Baptism of Jesus posted within the next couple of days. In the meantime, I welcome you to visit last year’s reflection on Matthew’s version of Jesus’ baptism, Epiphany 1: Ceremony (With a Side of Cake).

I’ll send out the Epiphany edition of my e-newsletter this afternoon, so if you’d like to receive it and haven’t already subscribed, I invite you to join my mailing list here.

Merry Epiphany! For this day, for this year, may you have light for the path and, as George Mackay Brown writes of the kings, a place to unload your treasures.

[To use this image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

One Response to “Feast of the Epiphany: A Calendar of Kings”

  1. Rev. Brian LeBaron Says:

    Entertaining column

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