Epiphany 2011

At the sound of the knock, Amahl’s mother awoke with a start but didn’t move from her bed on the bench. “Amahl,” she said drowsily, “go and see who’s knocking at the door.”

“Yes, Mother.” He went to the door and opened it a crack, his heart thudding in his chest. He closed the door quickly and rushed to his mother.

Amahl was shaking with excitement. “Mother – ” he stopped. He hardly dared tell her what he had seen. “Outside the door there is” – he swallowed and went on with an effort – “there is a king with a crown.”

She went with determination toward the door and Amahl limped close behind her. As the door swung open and she saw the three kings standing there in all their splendour, she caught her breath. She bowed to them in utter amazement.

“Good evening,” said the tall king with sweet blue eyes and a long white beard. “I am King Melchior.” He wore rich robes trimmed with ermine, and silver slippers, and his voice was majestic but very kindly.

“Good evening,” said a black king softly. “I am King Balthazar.” He, too, was tall, but dark-bearded, and he wore robes of gold and scarlet and leopard skin.

“Good evening,” said the third king. “I am Kaspar.”

Amahl wanted to laugh with delight. Kaspar’s robes, while they were rich, didn’t fit him very well, and his crown was askew on his head as if he had just slapped it on any old way. His shoes didn’t match either – one was gold and the other was purple. Amahl whispered triumphantly to his mother, “What did I tell you?”

“Noble sires,” she said in an awed voice.

The black king, Balthazar, asked gently, “May we rest awhile in your house and warm ourselves by your fireplace?”

Amahl’s mother answered humbly, “I am a poor widow. A cold fireplace and a bed of straw are all I have to offer you. To these you are welcome.”

King Kaspar, who seemed to be a little deaf, cupper his ear, “What did she say?”

Balthazar answered him, ” That we are welcome.”

Kaspar smiled down at Amahl and his mother. Amahl clapped his hands with excitement. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” exclaimed Kaspar.

Then the three kings said together, “Thank you!”

Gian-Carlo Menotti

(Imaging the Word, Vol 2)

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