What Child Is This (iTunes)
Words by William C. Dix, Music from English folk song
From the album In the Town of David (Ordinary Time)
William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) was born in Bristol, England. As a young man, he moved to Glasgow, England and worked as a manager of an insurance company. When he was 29 years old, he became seriously ill and was confined to his bed for months. He experienced a spiritual crisis during this time, followed by a time of renewal, in which he wrote poems, several of which became hymns we sing today. One such poem, "The Manger Throne" written in 1865, was the basis for this week's hymn. The first two verses of "What Child Is This" pose questions that are then answered; the first verse describes Jesus sleeping in the manger, and the second explains his reason for coming - to bear the cross for us sinners. The final verse invites singers to come to Christ the king and worship.
The tune, known as "Greensleeves" was published as early as 1580 and first associated with the lyrics of a love ballad.