145. What Child Is This

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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 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, one and all, 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!

Text Information
First Line: What child is this, who, laid to rest
Title: What Child Is This
Author: William Chatterton Dix (1871)
Publication Date: 2013
Meter: 8.7.8.7.6.8.6.7
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:66; Luke 2:6-20; Revelation 19:16
Topic: Christian Year: Nativity/Christmas; Christian Year: Epiphany; Jesus Christ: Birth
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: GREENSLEEVES
Composer: Unknown
Meter: 8.7.8.7.6.8.6.7
Key: e minor or modal
Source: English ballad, 16th cent.; arr. Christmas Carols New and Old, 1871


Text Information:

This Victorian text gains scope and power by having the original second halves of stanzas two and three restored. They give a stark forward glimpse of what lies ahead for this “babe, the son of Mary!” The tune is much older, dating from Tudor England.


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Audio recording: Audio (MP3)
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