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French Epiphany Carol

La Marche des Rois

La Marche des Rois is a French Christmas carol about the three Magi who came to pay homage to Our Lord on the Epiphany. The song describes a royal procession of Monarchs escorted by guards and pages, riding in their golden chariots, looking more like Angels than men. Following a star, these majestic Lords find the Manger where the God-Child has been born. There, they offer gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, reverently offering their tender vows before the Son of God.

La Marche des Rois was written by Fr. Joseph-François Domergue in the early 18th century, though the tune is medieval in origin. It is here sung by the Swedish choir Orphei Drängar.



Listen to the La Marche des Rois


Lyrics:

Latin lyrics

De bon matin,
J’ai rencontré le train,
De trois grands Rois qui allaient en voyage.
De bon matin,
J’ai rencontré le train,
De trois grands Rois dessus le grand chemin.

Venaient d’abord,
Les gardes du corps,
Des gens armés avec trente petits pages.
Venaient d’abord,
Les gardes du corps,
Des gens armés dessus leurs justaucorps.

Puis sur un char,
Doré de toutes parts,
On voit trois Rois modestes comm’ des Anges.
Puis sur un char,
Doré de toutes parts,
Trois Rois debout parmi les étendards.

L’étoile luit,
Et les Rois conduit,
Par longs chemins devant une pauvre étable.
L’étoile luit,
Et les Rois conduit,
Par longs chemins devant l’humble réduit.

Au Fils de Dieu,
Qui naquit en ce lieu,
Ils viennent tous présenter leurs hommages.
Au Fils de Dieu,
Qui naquit en ce lieu,
Ils viennent tous présenter leurs doux vœux.

De beaux présents,
Or, myrrhe et encens,
Ils vont offrir au Maître tant admirable.
De beaux présents,
Or, myrrhe et encens,
Ils vont offrir au Bienheureux Enfant.
English translation

Early in the morning,
I came across the procession,
Of three great Kings going on a journey.
Early in the morning,
I came across the procession,
Of three great Kings on the great road.

First there came,
The troup of guards,
Armed men, with thirty little pages.
First there came,
The troup of guards,
Men armored atop their doublets.

Then, on a chariot,
Gilded on all sides,
One sees three Kings as modest as Angels.
Then, on a chariot,
Gilded on all sides,
Three Kings standing amidst the standards.

The star shines,
And leads the Kings,
Through long roads before a poor stable.
The star shines,
And leads the Kings,
Through long roads before the humble nook.

To the Son of God,
Who was born in this place,
They come to present their homages.
To the Son of God,
Who was born in this place,
They come to present their tender wishes.

Exquisite presents,
Gold, myrrh and incense,
They go to offer to the most admirable Master.
Exquisite presents,
Gold, myrrh and incense,
They go to offer to the Blessed Child.


sheet music for la Marche de Rois


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King David playing the harp


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