What Child is This, the Song and the Story

Composer William Chatterton Dix Writes What Child is This



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William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) was an insurance salesman. At the age of 29, he was bedridden for many months due to a near fatal illness. During this trying time William began to write hymns. The most memorable and well loved of his songs is the Christmas Carol What Child is This?, which is sung to the melody of the traditional English folk song Greensleeves.

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What Child is This?

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 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!

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, the song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby,
Joy, joy, for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!

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Written by: Connie Ruth Christiansen