I Saw Three Ships Video

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.
 
And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?
 
Our Savior Christ and his lady,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Our Savior Christ and his lady,
On Christmas Day in the morning.
 
Pray, whither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Pray, whither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?
 
O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day in the morning.
 
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day in the morning.
 
And all the angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.
 
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.
 
Then let us all rejoice again, 
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Then let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas Day in the morning!

Philip Moyer is a pastor serving Clearnote Fellowship where his responsibilities include training men to be pastors in Clearnote Pastors College and helping churches and church plants with worship resources. He is a worship leader at Clearnote Church, Bloomington and also heads up the choir program. As a recording engineer, he has recorded and produced albums for Clearnote Records including the Good Shepherd Band and the Songbook albums. 

Comments

I don't understand what value this song has. Three ships? "...and His lay-dee"? What in the world...

I think you should drop this one, or play it without the words.

Love,

Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" ... And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone. - Matthew 17:4-5, 8

Not Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Not Jesus and His "lady".

Maybe there could be another verse where the ships and the lay-dee are gone and it's just Jesus...but I don't think the song can be salvaged.

Dear Daniel,
 
First of all, we are not recommending that people sing I Saw Three Ships in corporate worship services. This is not our practice nor would we want others to do it. This song has value, but it has obvious confusions that I wouldn't want to introduce into worship.
 
Secondly, though I admit that this text highlights antiquated thinking, I in no way think that this text is blasphemous, which you imply by citing Matthew 17 as if this song is about worshiping anything other than the one True God. The arrival of these three ships is not symbolic of worshiping deities of Joseph, Mary, Moses, Elijah, or any other such thing. They are not deities and we must not worship them. 
 
Imagine some 400 years ago--back in the day--living on the isle of England with an ocean, a channel, and a sea all surrounding the country. It was a big deal when a ship would come to port because ships would have valuable goods and treasures loaded on them or even loved ones who had been away for some time. Think of our brothers and fathers coming home after a year at war. What a joyous day that would be! 
 
And this song is likened to that, except better. It is the baby Jesus with His mother Mary.
 
What joy that would bring us to be waiting His arrival as He comes to port--the Christ child with His mother Mary! What kind of parade should we have? What kind of festival? It needs to be loud and joyous like New Year's Day.
 
The song does an excellent job capturing the excitement surrounding the birth of our Savior. It's like three ships coming to port. "And what was in those ships?" "Our Savior, Christ, and His lady"--His mother Mary.
 
Now let's get back to enjoying some figgy pudding and CELEBRATING the birth of our Lord. 
 
With love,

 

Dear Philip,

The ships are fine, the only thing I'm talking about is the phrase "Our Savior Christ and his lady". I think that it raises Mary to a level with Jesus.

See the difference in Luke 2:16:

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

In this verse you see Mary and Joseph, and then...look! It's not that we can't ever sing about anyone else. Gabriel's Message is beautiful and appropriate, for example. But here in this verse of this song, I think Christ lacks the preeminence, and that ruins the celebration.

Maybe "Jo-SEPH, Mar-Y, and the Bab-Y"...

Love,

Actually I see that at the beginning I was questioning the three ships. Your explanation helped, thank you, I'm happy to drop that part from my argument.

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