November 20, 2012

What Child is This

Joy, Joy for Christ is Born

What Child is This was written in 1865 by the Bristol surgeon and writer William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898). In his late 20's he was confined to bed with a life threatening illness. Though he became deeply depressed during this period, he tried to occupy himself with writing. Some of his best known works, including What Child is This were composed during this episode. It is set to the 16th Century English folk melody, Greensleeves. In the Liturgy of the Hours, What Child is This is sung during Christmas.

WHAT CHILD IS THIS? by William Dix, 1865 (Public Domain)

1. 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 Christians, 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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