What Child Is This?

Born in Bristol in 1837, Anglican layman William Chatterton Dix was the son of a surgeon who had also written a biography on Thomas Chatterton, the poet, and also the reason for William’s middle name. Dix became very sick and was in bed for a long time recovering. He had plenty of time to pray and read the Word of God and from this experience his life was truly changed for the better. He began to write hymns, three we may be familiar with today: As with Gladness, Men of Old, Alleluia! Sing to Jesus and What Child is This? This song was written as The Manger Song, first published in 1865. The tune is to the ever-popular Greensleeves, written a full century before Dix’s hymn1. Below is a version by Southern Seminary I think you’ll enjoy 🙂

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 lamb 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 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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