Thursday, December 20, 2012

John Henry Hopkins, Jr, Composer (1820 - 1891)

In addition of Winter Wonderland by Honesdale native Richard B. Smith, I've recently learned that another traditional Christmas carol has its origins in Northeastern/Central Pennsylvania.

John Henry Hopkins, Jr. (October 28, 1820 – August 14, 1891) was an American clergyman and hymnist.  Born in Pittsburgh, Hopkins served as rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania; he delivered the eulogy at the funeral of President Ulysses S Grant in 1885.

In 1857 in Williamsport, Hopkins composed the words and music of We Three Kings (Of Orient Are) as part of a Christmas pageant for his nephews and nieces.The hymn has since become a traditional holiday carol recoded by musical legends such as The Beach Boys, Ella Fitzgerald, Neil Diamond, Bing Crosby and many others.

Much thanks to Deborah L. for this reference.