Nativity Scene Another Sunday, another entry in my series, Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth. As we’re still in the Christmas season, this week’s selection is “What Child is This,” a Christmas carol written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865 and set to the tune of the 16th century traditional song Greensleeves. As great as the lyrics are, a big part of me still tends to find some of the greatest beauty for the carol in the melody from Greensleeves. It’s the melody, I think, that makes the carol seem a lot older than it really is… and I’m no help to counter that since for the audio this week I’ve selected “Greensleeves” being played on the lute to accompany the lyrics.

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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