I Saw Three Ships Songsheet

Piano Sheet Music

The English traditional Christmas carol, I Saw Three Ships, is thought to have originated from the Derbyshire region and was first printed in the 17th century. There are several versions of the popular carol from different time periods and we have created piano sheet music using the DecPlay method so that you can learn to play it. The original lyrics are thought to reference the three ships and the Three Wise Men travelling to Cologne Cathedral. It could also possibly be about Wenceslaus II, King of Bohemia whose coat of arms contains the words, “Azure three galleys argent”. Since the Middle Ages, the modern day lyrics and meaning behind I Saw Three Ships are about the most important Christmas biblical characters travelling to Bethlehem on the ships, The Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.

English solicitor, William Sandys published I Saw Three Ships in 1833. He published a collection of Christmas carols that he gathered and improvised for Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern. In that publication showed appearances of some of the most well known Christmas carols to this day, such as Hark the Herald Angels Sing and The First Noel.

A modern day version of I Saw Three Ships is now quite well known which replaces the Christmas reference with New Year’s Day. Instead of Mary and Jesus, the songs characters are 3 girls on a ship for a wedding on New Year’s Day and they are entertaining the guests. Nat King Cole sang a version of I Saw Three Ships for his LP in 1960, The Magic of Christmas.

This piano song sheet is available for instant download.



I Saw Three Ships