What Child is This

This is a Christmas hymn about the adoration of the shepherds who visited during Jesus' nativity.

It was written by English, high Anglican, maritime insurance specialist and poet / hymn-writer William Chatterton Dix (1837–1898) in 1865, as an adaptation of his poem, The Manger Throne.

Some arrangements use the second part of the first verse ("This, this is Christ, the King") as a chorus after each verse, while others use the original lyrics which have three complete verses.  Both options are shown below.

With meter 8.7.8.7 with refrain, in 1871 it was set to GREENSLEVES, a traditional English tune  - and since then has virtually always been set to this tune.


Downloads

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Examples

Cantor and congregation with organ, recorded in a church-service:


Singer with band - professional recording:


Young people's choir, recorded for TV or video:


Large choir with orchestra:


Singer with piano:


Guitar-led band, professional recording:


Children's choir with guitar and piano:


Instrumental - piano, with words on-screen:


Lyrics

With chorus

What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

Chorus:
This, this is Christ, the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

2 Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.[Chorus]

3 So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.


Original arrangement

What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ, the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

2 Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

3 So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary.



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