|"I Saw Three Ships" graphics in navy, red, burgundy and green for Christmas cards. The above image for pinterest only please.|
The lyrics mention the ships sailing into Bethlehem, but the nearest body of water is the Dead Sea about 20 miles away. The reference to three ships is thought to originate in the three ships that bore the purported relics of the Biblical magi to Cologne Cathedral in the 12th century. Another possible reference is to Wenceslaus II, King of Bohemia, who bore a coat of arms "Azure three galleys argent". Another thought was the three kings that came to baby Jesus.
An arrangement by Martin Shaw appears in The Oxford Book of Carols. The Carols for Choirs series of carol books features an arrangement of the carol by Sir David Willcocks. Organist Simon Preston and former conductor of the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Sir Philip Ledger, have also written arrangements that the choir have performed at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in recent years. This carol is also featured in the musical Caroline, or Change, but as a counterpoint. Adapted by Jon Schmidt on Jon Schmidt Christmas album. John Renbourn has arranged it (in a rather free adaptation) for guitar. The song appears on Nat King Cole's 1960 LP "The Magic Of Christmas" (l/k/a "The Christmas Song"), arranged by Ralph Carmichael. Progressive rock singer Jon Anderson released a version as the title track of his album 3 Ships in 1985. Sufjan Stevens recorded a version of the song in 4/4 time for his album Hark!: Songs for Christmas, Vol. II. Wikipedia
"Rare video featuring Marianne and The Chieftains performing the song 'I Saw Three Ships A Sailing'. From the Chieftains 1991 CD 'Bells Of Dublin'."