Two thousand and a bit years ago
If a skilled healer you wanted to know
then Artaban was your man.
We’ll name him Art for a start,
friends Balthasar, Caspar, Melchior
B, C and M we will call.
Old Persia was their home,
as wise men they were known.
Sat around watching the skies
calculating charts and eating pies…
looking for light in the dark of the night.
Bang, a new star seen from afar.
Bang, right at the heart
of their best sky chart,
something big was happening
born in Israel – a new king.
Said Art to C, M and B
‘this new king we’ve got to see’.
‘Yep’ they cried, you know, we’re ready to go.
Camels saddled, presents packed,
B, C and M are ready to act.
But Art hasn’t made a start.
He said ‘I have stuff to do,
you set off and I’ll follow you.’
So the others got moving
while the starlight was still grooving.
Art sold off all of his stuff
and ended up with just enough
to get the right gear to join the wise gents
and some cracking king-sized presents.
With the last of his cash
he bought three jewels flash –
A sapphire of deepest blue,
a sea pearl flawless and true,
a ruby of blood red hue.
B, C and M were well on their way
when Art set off late in the day.
His horse was fast, his horse was swift,
his horse was prepared to shift.
Of his brothers he was not far behind
when by the roadside he did find
a man battered, bloody and dying,
desperate for help, he was crying.
If Art stopped he would miss his friends
and perhaps his quest might be at an end.
But to leave the man would not be right,
so Art got ready to stay the night.
He ground and mixed herbs of healing,
stinking wounds he started cleaning,
and told of the star and its meaning.
His grateful patient told him straight
‘Hurry up and don’t be late,
Your friends ride on to Jerusalem
but the new king is born in Bethlehem.’
With the fellow’s lot improving
it’s time for Art to get moving.
To Jerusalem he dashes
at the Temple his horses crashes.
Art finds a note from the other three
‘Bethlehem is the place to be
and by the way, we ate your tea.’
Needing food and a new steed
he has to sell his first precious bead.
The sapphire of deepest blue he has to swap
for a train of camels and a big lamp chop.
Sailing over sandy desert wastes
towards Bethlehem he raced.
Seeking out a new borne child
he finds a mother meek and mild
but when he asks if she has the king
She says, ‘well sonny, here’s a thing,
the king is gone, his parents to,
followed by blokes who looked like you.’
Just then they hear an eerie shout,
soldiers are pacing round about.
New born boys they’ve come to kill
because it is old Herod’s will.
He’d asked the other magi three
to let him know where the new king might be.
But it seems that they all forgot
and left town like the sand was hot.
The woman shivers, holding baby tight
as burly soldiers hove into sight.
Art blocks her doorway with his frame,
to deflect the killers is his aim.
‘Nothing to see here’ he shouts
and with the ruby bribes the louts.
They pass by with cheers and cursing,
and so is saved this one poor nursling.
‘God’s blessing on you’ prays the mum
as Art mounts his camel and begins to run.
To Egypt Jesus, Mary and Joseph have gone.
Art keeps true to his promise and follows on.
On reaching the land of sphinx and pyramid
it seems he has just missed the princely kid.
He traverses the desert to and fro,
to every land he will come and go
and to each place he comes to stay
he hears that Jesus left that day.
But whenever he walks in through a door
he finds the sick, the lame and the poor
so he stops to heal, clothe, feed them all.
Thirty-three years pass this way,
missing Jesus by just a day.
At last to Jerusalem Art returns,
wrinkled, aged, but his heart still burns.
Crowds are massing, thronging, pushing
He asks where they are all rushing.
To Golgotha, the hanging hill,
Jesus, King of the Jews to kill.
Art’s dodgy ticker misses a beat,
this is the King he’s been trying to meet.
He turns to follow but everything goes wavery
he’s met a girl who’s to be sold into slavery.
His last jewel, the pure, luminous pearl,
he could pay it over and free the girl,
but his chance to meet the king would pass –
no, he must cough up and save the lass.
A shout goes up – the king is dead!
The earth quakes, there is much dread,
buildings fall, the Temple torn, the city shattered,
bricks strike old Art, he sinks, his body battered.
The slave girl he saved pulls him close
in the sky she hears a faint voice,
the words too weak for her to hear
but Art replies in a whisper clear:
‘Yes Lord I helped the poor, the sick, the out of mind,
but I spent my gifts and you I never did find.’
Once more the girl heard the voice in the sky
and this time she could discern the sweet reply:
‘Art, every time an outcast you tended,
it was my broken body you mended.’
Then she knew that Art rested safe and sound
his travels over, his King he had found