Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Child Is This? Introduction

Once again it's time for the annual "blog through a Christmas Carol" series. At least, if having done something once in the past really counts as being "annual." Again, a bazillion thanks to Roger Overton, who did this before me and oodles better than I could hope to. In fact, if you're reading this and haven't read his, stop now, click on his name, and read his meditations on O Holy Night...
This year, I've picked What Child Is This? Partially because I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul, and partially because it's just a great song.

What Child Is This? was written by William Chatterton Dix during a deep depression, which occurred after a sickness brought him to the brink of death. (There's probably a book to be written, but not by me, on the connection between clinical depression and hymn writing, cf William Cowper and Horatio Spafford.) The song was later set to the traditional English tune "Greensleeves."

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 Christians, 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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