The carol centres around the Biblical Magi, who visited Jesus as a child in a house (Matthew 2:11) sometime after his Nativity and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh while paying homage to him. Though the event is recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, there are no further details given in the New Testament with regards to their names, the number of Magi that were present or whether they were even royal. There are, however, verses in the Old Testament that foretell of the visitors. Isaiah 60:6:. . . “The wealth of the nations will come to you. A multitude of camels will cover you. The young camels of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba will come; They will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the Lord. ” New American Standard Bible, and two selections from the Psalms- Psalm 72:10: “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute, and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts” and Psalm 72:15: “. . . and may there be given to him gold from Arabia”, New American Standard Bible. Hence, the names of the Magi—Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar—and their status as kings from the Orient are legendary and based on tradition. The number three stems from the fact that there were three separate gifts that were given.

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