What Child Is This? Christmas Song

What Child Is This?

Year: 1865

Written By: William Chatterton Dix

The Christmas song What Child is this was written at a time when Christmas was not widely celebrated and writing about the birth of Jesus Christ was frowned upon and virtually unheard of. Believe it or not, in 1865 the Conservative Christian churches did not condone celebrating Christmas or the giving of gifts of any kind in conjunction with Christ being born. Their reasons for this were that if celebrated in this fashion it would turn Christ birthday into a pagan holiday that was not about serious worship on God and the Lord Jesus.

So when William Chatterton Dix wrote The Manger Throne which then became What Child is this it was very unusual for anyone to write much less sing about such things. William Chatterton Dix was the son of a surgeon and fell ill with an illness that almost killed him in 1865. During his confinement to bed, he wrote over 40 hymns one of them being What Child is this. One can only think that in his deep depression maybe he started wondering about God and life and decided to set it to music.

After he was well he set the song to the music of the traditional Greensleeves becoming one of over 20 lyricists who chose Greensleeves to accompany their verse. As for Greensleeves itself, it has no author and has long been a mystery. No one knows where it came from but it has been rumored that Henry the eighth wrote the song about Anne Boleyn. This is highly unlikely though as that style of music didn't come about until after Henry was long dead.

The song has been sung in many different versions and has different lyrics in many books. Nevertheless, although who sang it first is a mystery it is one of the most beloved Christmas carols of today. It has been heralded from churches to radio stations and everything in between.

Many stars have sang What Child is this since it became popular among them some notable stars such as Dolly Parton who has been known to sing this and many other songs without music and still bring chills to anyone who happened to be listening.

To write a song such as What Child is this in the age that Chatterton did is brave and nothing short of remarkable. We are glad he did because at Christmas time What Child is this when sung brings home the true reason for the season to all.


What Child Is This? Lyrics

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.
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.
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.