The Lyrics Behind The Melody

medium_6439652885William Chatterton Dix was an English writer of hymns and carols during the 19th century. Dix loved the poetry of worship and wrote some 40 hymns over the course of his life. During one period of his life Dix became seriously ill and spent a great deal of time confined to his bed. Dix also suffered from depression during this extended illness, which led to a true spiritual crisis. He spent much time in prayer and reading Christian literature and came through this trauma as a true man of faith. His most famous hymn is “What Child Is This?” It was set to the music Greensleeves, which preceded Dix’s poem by a century. Consider the words of this great hymn on this day that we celebrate as Christmas, for they carry well the meaning and purpose of the Christ child. Merry Christmas!

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 donkeys are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spears shall pierce him through,
the cross he bore 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.

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

(photo credit)

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