Question about Christmas carol: We Three Kings of Orient Are

Ok, this is something that I wondered about everytime I heard “We Three Kings of Orient Are” played on the radio during the Christmas season. Why does it say "westward leading? Wouldn’t you think it would say “eastward leading”?

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

The star is an eastern star after all.

The legend has the wise men coming from the East to the Middle East…from Persia(?) or the Orient to Palestine is west…

[quote="GratefulDeb, post:1, topic:221443"]
Ok, this is something that I wondered about everytime I heard "We Three Kings of Orient Are" played on the radio during the Christmas season. Why does it say "westward leading? Wouldn't you think it would say "eastward leading"?

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

The star is an eastern star after all.

[/quote]

More likely, it was a miraculous phenomenon.

"Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was." - Matthew 2:9

So according to the passage, they saw it first in the East, it moved West, to Bethlehem, and then stopped. Neither stars nor other normal astronomical phenomena behave this way.

Actually, they do.

Keplar’s Laws of Planetary Motion, when set into a computer program, indicate that on December 25th, over Bethlehem, a “star” went into retrograde motion (the star appear to stand still when seen from a position on Earth).

bethlehemstar.net/dance/dance.htm#stop

“On this scale of time, Jupiter did stop. On December 25 of 2 BC as it entered retrograde, Jupiter reached full stop in its travel through the fixed stars. Magi viewing from Jerusalem would have seen it stopped in the sky above the little town of Bethlehem.”


bethlehemstar.net/

If given the chance to watch this video (EWTN aired a showing of it) it will open your mind to the greatness of God.

From the Bethlehem Star website:

“A Coronation”

"JUPITER. The name of the greatest god of Roman mythology. And the name of the largest planet of our solar system. Jupiter has been known from ages-old to the present as the King Planet.

This greatest of planets is a “gas giant,” approximately eleven times the size of Earth and over 300 times more massive.

It circles the Sun far beyond Earth, in an orbit of about twelve years duration. In ancient times, planets like Jupiter were considered “wandering stars.” Since humans have assigned kingly qualities to this giant wanderer for dozens of centuries, might it have something to do with our Star announcing the birth of a king? That will be our working theory.

It’s not enough to have a kingly name and reputation, of course.

To be Matthew’s Star, Jupiter as viewed from Earth would have to do peculiar things.

More precisely, as considered by a magus viewing from the Middle East during the years 3 and 2 BC, Jupiter’s movements would have to satisfy all nine identifying characteristics of the Star.

In September of 3 BC at the time of the Jewish New Year, Rosh ha-Shanah, Jupiter began to do just that.

A magus watching Jupiter that September saw two objects moving so close that they appeared to touch. This close approach of celestial bodies is sometimes called a ‘conjunction.’

Our Middle Eastern viewer saw Jupiter coming into a close conjunction with the star, Regulus.

Regulus takes its name from the word root which yields our word ‘regal.’

The Babylonians called Regulus Sharu, which means ‘king.’

The Romans called Regulus Rex, which means ‘king.’

So to start things, at the beginning of the new Jewish year, the Planet of Kings met the Star of Kings. This conjunction may have indicated kingship in a forceful way to a Babylonian magus (satisfying one qualification for the Star), but would it have startled him?

Probably not.

Jupiter glides slowly past Regulus about every 12 years.

Let’s assume our magus enjoyed a 50-year career, say from age 20 to age 70. We don’t know how old the Magi were, but if our man was in the second half of his career, he might have seen such a pass two or three times before.

Jupiter’s orbit wobbles relative to Regulus, so not every conjunction is as close as the one he saw in 3 BC. Perhaps our magus recorded this event with some interest, but it is hard to imagine great excitement. Not from this alone. But, of course, there is more."

Continued at: bethlehemstar.net/dance/dance.htm#coronation

The Wise Men came from the East, therefore they headed West. I can't give you any of the astrology or star alignment and all that just the simple answer.

I was listening to Fr. Rutler on EWTN “Christ in the City” and he said that it is possible that the Magi were Zorastrian priests / astronomers from Babylon (the empire that held Daniel & the Jews in captivity from 597-538 BCE).

It’s rather interesting as well, that Zorastrianism is one of the three earliest monotheistic religions (Judaism, Zorastrianism and for a short time Akhenaton of Egypt in the 14th century BCE).

The phrase “in the East” can refer to either where the Magi were when they saw the star (they saw it while they were somewhere east of Palestine) or where the star was when they saw it (in the eastern sky). Since east of modern Iraq would be Iran, Afghanistan, etc., the former must be the correct interpretation. They were in the east, the star was in the west, and they followed it to Palestine.

(This does not apply for interpretations that involve seeing a planetary conjunction in Pisces as refering to the birth of a new King of the Jews, and therefore the “star” was not a directional pointer at all.)

DaveBj

Thanks guys for some great answers (and thought provoking ones too!)

Of course they were going westward--they were from the far east. I feel like such a do-do. Just give me an E for Geography! In my defense, my life goes at a frantic pace, so I don't have time to even think sometimes!:)

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