Who wrote the Christmas carol 'What Child is this'?

William Chatterton Dix wrote the popular carol 'What Child is this' in 1865 when he was bedridden from a severe illness. It is set to the traditional folk tune Greensleeves.


Dix also wrote the hymns including 'As with Gladness Men of Old', 'To You, O Lord, Our Hearts We Raise' and 'Alleluia! Sing to Jesus'.

Today the carol is most popular in the USA

What is the carol about?

The carol is about the nativity, and perhaps inspiration came when Dix wondered what the shepherds thought when they visited Jesus?

'What Child is this' lyrics

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.[Chorus]

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.[Chorus]


Main image: A picture of the painting Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst. ⓒ creative commons