Free Choir Sheet Music – What Child Is This?

Free Choir Sheet Music – What Child Is This?

A Hymn of Carol and Cheer: “What Child Is This?”

The hymn, "What Child is This?", is the brainchild of William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) in 1865. The hymn is a Christmas carol and originated in England, although it is most popular in the US compared to its birthplace. The hymn's tune is patterned after Greensleeves, a traditional English folk song, giving the hymn a soulful, haunting and beautiful feeling. The lyrics of the hymn were adapted from Dix's earlier poem, "The Manger Throne".

The hymn was created after Dix suffered a critical illness and later, depression while working as an insurance company manager. "What Child is This?" is one hymn he created after experiencing a spiritual revival.

The hymn has three stanzas. In the first and second verse, there is a pattern of asking a rhetorical question in the first half. The second half answers the rhetorical question. Meanwhile, the final verse is a universal appeal "to accept Christ." The overall context of the hymn revolves around the shepherds and how they discovered Christ's birth. The questions in verse were designed as shepherds' questions, and the rest of the carol/hymn provides the answers.

The hymn's author, William Chatterton Dix, is the son of John Dix, a surgeon in Bristol. Dix was educated at Bristol's grammar school and penned the Life of Chatterton and Local Legends. He also wrote other hymns including "The Manger Throne", "Epiphany", "Come unto Me, ye weary" and many others. Thirty to forty of his hymns are favorite hymns in many churches in the US and other English-speaking countries. Most of Dix's hymns are Christmas or Easter carols. In addition to writing hymns, he has also written prose and verses, devotional works and a book of instructions.

This lovely hymn reminds us to seek Christ, be hopeful and joyful at His birth, like the shepherds who are in this hymn.

Other Resources