Three Hoppin’ Kings

Every once in a great while (like, at about five minute intervals), I say or do something or other, and She looks at me like I just stepped off a spaceship from Alpha Centauri. “Where in pluperfect hell did that come from?” Which leaves me perplexed. Whatever it was, it made perfect sense to me. “Yes of course” is her snappy comeback. “But next time you jump from Step 1 to Step 14, you want to tell me just a little about numbers 2 through 13?”

That made me think of what to do about the, ah, song featured in this post. How it came to be written makes perfect sense to me. Even though it’s about something I’ve never done before. But I know the Steps. You, dear readers, almost certainly don’t. So, rather than expose the Internet to showers of sincere, but widely scattered, expressions of “Where in pluperfect hell did that come from?”, I figured I’d better explain myself.

1. Sunday (6 January 2008), on the Christian calendar of most Western peoples, is the twelfth day of Christmas, the date 2000-odd years ago when, the story is told, in the original Elizabethan English, the three wise guys from “The East” arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts to a baby in a cave … no, stable … no, … oh, never mind. Next point.

2. Hip-hop is big here in Hawai‘i. Maybe because it’s the only thing that can drown out all those flippin’ ukuleles. At least two of the young people in my lab are devotees. So, lately, I’ve been listening to more rap than I ever thought necessary.

3. I’ve just accepted the responsibility of leading the English-speaking choir at the church we attend. The members are enthusiastic – but, sadly, their level of enthusiasm isn’t matched by either their numbers or their training. I’ve been racking my brain for something that they can perform for Sunday’s service. Perhaps a hymn or carol …

4. The church is, em, just a tad traditional. In fact, it’s about as anti-rap as one could imagine. So much so that, a few weeks ago, some of the younger boys had a boombox playing hip-hop in the parking lot – and a woman (and not hardly the oldest member, either) stalks up to them and demands: “Turn that off. You’re at church.”

I have to confess at smiling, or perhaps rather more than smiling, at the thought of this church choir being confronted with the task of performing a hip-hop number, and the congregation (apart from those lads in the parking lot) with listening to one. Even a Christian one, if such things be. And no sooner had that thought popped up, than this did. If it’s been done before (or even if it hasn’t), all I can say is “I’m sorry …”

* * * *

Three Kings, Yo!

[hip hop rhythm – common time]

[intro – lead rapper]

I got a story, yo
A story ya know
Of far away and long ago
Of three kings and their bling
Ya gotta know about kings and their bling
They might be doin’ the ‘hood
Or the President thing
If they wuz here today
Ya hear what I say?
But the thing of these kings
Was to take their bling far
They wuz chasin’ a star

[sung by background vocalists (female?) – with the rhythm]

Star of wonder, star of night

[unison rap, if more than one rapper]

Lookin’ for the man with the plan
Ya gotta understand
He wuz lyin’ in a manger
Livin’ in danger
He’s the rave fave
‘Cause he will save, yo,
He will save.

[sung by background vocalists – triplets against the rhythm]:

We three kings of Orient are.

[verse – rapper 1]

I got gold, yo,
Gold is mine
From a fine mine
I’m gonna bring the bling into the fold
Gonna mold my personality
To the reality
Of people living in tents
Or less
I won’t sit on the fence
Or make no pretense

I’m giving it up for the man with the plan
Ya gotta understand
He’s lyin’ in a manger
Livin’ in danger
He’s the rave fave
‘Cause he will save, yo,
He will save.

[sung, as before]:

We three kings of Orient are.

[verse – rapper 2]

I got incense, yo,
Incense is mine
It’s the best incense
Ya know I’m making sense
I’m being totally frank
And ya can take that to the bank
In dollars and cents
Baby, take this my penitence
And use it to wash away the fragrance of vagrants

I’m giving it up for the man with the plan
Ya gotta understand
He’s lyin’ in a manger
Livin’ in danger
He’s the rave fave
‘Cause he will save, yo,
He will save.

[sung, as before]:

We three kings of Orient are.

[verse – rapper 3]

I got myrrh, yo
Myrrh is mine
A perfume for the time,
Your time, my time, end time,
His time ended by hanging from a tree,
But this myrrh is perfumin’ box number three,
‘Cause in three days this brotha is gonna be free.

[sung – with the rhythm]

Guide us to that perfect light
[rapped, ad lib] Three kings, yo!
Guide us to that perfect light
[rapped, ad lib] Three kings, yo!
Guide us to that perfect light

[unison rappers]

Yo, dawg
Ya gotta understand
He’s the man with the plan
He wuz lyin’ in a manger
Livin’ in danger
He’s the rave fave
[rhythm cuts off abruptly – lead rapper finishes]
‘Cause he will save, yo,
He will save.

* * * *

An author, I forget who now, but she was featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac like about a year ago, was quoted (I paraphrase):

In order to succeed at writing, the writer must enter a state of mind that most people would pay handsomely to be cured of.

I am not taking recommendations!

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2008 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. BRAVO, YO!
    Personally… I LOVE IT!!!
    Mind you… I HAVE teenagers and am forced to listen to THEIR rap… so THIS rap suits me just fiiiiiiine!
    Did you DO it OC??? Did you really DO it??? Oh I think you shouuuuld! YES I DO!!! Diversity! Ask Quilly! She’ll tell ya! DIVERSITY! YO!

  2. Did one consider this may be God’s way to get the young people going to Church. God does work through many different forms, and Rap may be his way. Seeing the older folks getting into rap might be something else. Then again God is the Master of Miracles.

  3. Quilly, shh!

    Nancy, keep your money. The risk of a repeat performance is infinitesimal. Trust me.

    Sorry, Melli. The choir’s doing the victorian version. I don’t think even Quilly’s street outreach group in Vegas could have pulled anything like this off.

    Pauline, thank you. As I mentioned, I’ve been listening to a lot of this lately. It’s yet another polarizing element in this polarized society. And there’s a certain self-serving, self-justifying quality to all the ranting. Still, the fact that so many young folk identify with the anger and alienation that’s expressed in this stuff should, perhaps, oughta be telling us something. Could it be that all the hatred and rejection we profess for the rap genre’s ’cause we don’t wish to hear that message?

    Bill, it’s a strange God that works through violence, racism, and misogyny. Still, “omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent” and all that.

  4. The Church I pastored in Crystal Falls would have loved it. They loved any way to represent the Good News. The Church I’m in now probably would do it. I loved it.

  5. Yo! You got flow, but you ain’t got no sixteens. You gonna hustle that, you betta spit your rhymes tight and ‘aight. Out! 😉

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