Critical Christmas Carols: You Saw Three Ships?!

You saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
You saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning?!

That would have been a miracle,
Or far advanced technology
Such as appears on Doctor Who
On Christmas Day in the morning.

For Bethlehem’s a landlocked town,
On Christmas Day, and every day;
Yes Bethlehem’s a landlocked town,
And not just in the morning.

None would have noticed angels’ songs
A star so bright, or child’s cry
If those three ships came sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Jules Henri Giffard sailed a blimp
September 1852
Too late for three magi to use
On Christmas Day in the morning.

I had been meaning to add this next entry in my series of critical Christmas carols, and seeing that Jeff Carter had offered a limerick on this theme inspired me to finally post it.

  • Just Sayin’

    Might the three ships be metaphorical rather than literal?

    • Gary

      Ok. Why are camels called ships of the desert? Nothing more than that.

  • newenglandsun

    Considering I live in Arizona, that would be a miracle to see three ships come sailing in on Christmas day. Either that or an hallucination.

  • newenglandsun

    Okay, figured it out, Bethlehem in the song is not Bethlehem, Palestine, it’s Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FHev76jp_o

  • Jeff Carter

    I’ve heard a couple of different histories of this particular song. One says that the original version of the song was about the skulls / relics of the 3 wise men being taken (by ship) to the Cathedral in Cologne. The other history I’ve heard is that the song was originally about Jesus and Mary going to Wales.


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