What Child is This? – Exploring the Origin of This Beloved Christmas Carol


Introduction to What Child Is This?

What Child is This? is a traditional English Christmas carol dating back to the 16th century. The carol was originally part of the play “The Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but over time, it gained widespread popularity as an individual carol. The metaphorical lyrics describe the scene where Jesus Christ is laid in the manger at his birth, as visitors—a group of eager shepherds—arrive to gaze upon him and present gifts of adoration and reverence.

The tune that accompanies the song has been associated with many other melodies but most commonly with “Greensleeves.” It carries a solemn yet beautiful melody, one that offers an ideal backdrop for singing the meaningful verses of reflection. Whether heard in church or sung around a warm fireplace on Christmas Eve, this classic holiday song provides joy to listeners as they pause to contemplate the wonder and miracle of Jesus’ birth.

Since its first introduction centuries ago, What Child Is This? has become deeply rooted in global holiday traditions, standing alongside popular favorites such as Silent Night and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing among some of today’s most beloved carols. Lent its own soulful Medieval style arrangement by composer Miles Davis featuring organist Gil Evans, this captivating adaptation pays homage to its internal history while transforming it into something fresh and mesmerizing suited for more modern musical conversations. When we raise our voices in unity each December 25th – whether alone or alongside friends – we share joyful moments filled with peace and reverence while allowing ourselves just enough space to feel loss in order be comforted by faith once again.

Uncovering How What Child Is This Originated

What child is this? This timeless carol has been sung in churches around the world for centuries, yet few people know the origin of this beloved Christmas hymn.

The origins of “What Child Is This?” can be traced back to William Chatterton Dix’s original poem written in 1865 entitled “The Manger Throne.” Dix wrote the words during a period of serious illness where he found himself musing on the nativity scene and reflecting upon Jesus’ humble beginnings. He narrates a conversation between an elderly shepherd asking about the baby and Mary proudly declaring her son’s divinity. Though not well known today, Dix was one of England’s most popular poets at that time and wrote some 450 hymns, many still being sung today.

The hymn we now recognize as “What Child Is This?” was born when British composer Thomas Oliphant composed a lush melody set to Dix’s poetic words in 1871 — thus tying two art forms together: literature and music. The tune moves gracefully through four distinct melodic themes; each telling part of the story culminating in a big choral finish that leaves us with an awe-inspiring takeaway each time it is heard.

Also sometimes called “Greensleeves” or “Greensleaves”, its unmistakable English folk tune had been used since as early as 1580, but gained unprecedented popularity after Oliphant added his own special touch to it. Interestingly enough, though “Greensleeves” was likely composed by King Henry VIII, its primitive origin predates him by 400 years! Today we think of “Greensleeves” as essentially being tied to “What Child Is This?” yet from what historians gather there is no direct proof actually linking them together — making their combined history even more interesting than it already is!

It may be hard to pinpoint

Exploring the Meaning of the Carol Part by Part

The carol has long been a source of comfort, joy and cheer for many. Whether sung in church or around the campfire, carols often evoke deep emotion and nostalgia for things past. But what do all the words mean? By exploring the meaning of a carol line by line, you’ll gain an even greater appreciation for this musical art form.

A carol’s opening lines set the stage for the rest of its lyrics, so it’s important to pay attention to these first few words. The opening lines might detail reason why a particular song is being sung – they might be religious in nature, such as “Hark! The herald angels sing,” or they may simply introduce listeners to some kind of story-like scenario like “Once in Royal David City” or “Good King Wenceslas.” Here we see examples of multiple types of wordplay: similes such as “silent night/all is calm,” images like “a cold winter’s night,” and general descriptors such as “three ships come sailing.”

This is usually followed by specific descriptions that give us more details about what’s taking place during this activity – who is doing what, where and when? Depending on which genre or style of carol you’re examining these further explanations can include beautiful imagery detailing landscapes and geographical locations (“Mary was dressed all int white snow”) adverbs indicating action (“slowly walking”), verbs speaking to physical abilities (“singing in the fields”), present participle phrases providing tension (“waiting in anticipation”), adjectives describing something intangible but powerful (“beautiful love song”).

The chorus section is often filled with repetition and refrain that help establish reminders throughout each verse. This means listeners will hear refrains like “hallelujahs” or “glory be to God on high’ repeated at regular intervals throughout different

What Child Is This FAQs

The Christmas carol, “What Child Is This,” is an old traditional English carol about the birth of Jesus Christ. It has been sung for centuries, and continues to be sung today. The title refers to the question posed by the biblical figure of Joseph when he first encountered Mary and Jesus in Bethlehem.

In its current arrangement, the song features a melody composed by William Chatterton Dix in 1865 set to the words of a 16th Century English poem known as “Greensleeves”. The lyrics are both thoughtful and beautiful, emphasizing on Jesus’ humble birth in a manger. The Victorian-era melody carries with it a plaintive impression that many find captivating and lasting.

This Biblical ballad has much history attached to it; it has been sung by notable figures throughout generations over including Luciano Pavarotti’s iconic performance of this song during an Easter Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Paul Anka included his own rendition of “What Child Is This?” on his holiday album released in 2006. Celine Dion also recorded her own version for her holiday album entitled “These Are Special Times”, released back in 1998; this recording was accompanied by English composer David Foster’s original symphony arrangements capturing the sentimentality of Christmas brilliantly in his gentle music harmony reverberating with fragility.

To this day, What Child Is This still remains one of the most popular Christmas carols worldwide ever since its release – possibly due to its mesmerizing nostalgia that can help us remember our long-forgotten childhood memories spent beneath twinkling starlight on a cold winter night listening joyously to relatives singing heartwarming songs together with mugs brimming with hot cocoa or coffee held snugly between their palms. Perhaps this beloved tune can bring each and every one’s attention once again back towards God’s miraculous act: Christ being born among us as savior – down here upon earth rejoicing

Top 5 Facts about the Christmas Carol What Child Is This?

1. What Child Is This? is derived from a sixteenth century poem written by William Chatterton Dix. Originally set to music with the title “The Manger Throne,” it was later adapted for use as a Christmas carol.

2. The song consists of four verses and the melody is similar to that of Greensleeves, an old English folk song composed in 1580 by unknown authorship. It has become one of the most popular and recorded Christmas songs of all time, having been covered by many artists ranging from Bing Crosby to Christina Aguilera.

3. Its popularity continues due to its beautiful musical quality and lyrical connection to the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. It highlights His power at birth even though He was assumed to be born into poverty while living in a stable surrounded by animals and shepherds adoring Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh given by Kings.

4. While not specific about which day or year Jesus was born (because no one knows!) it does hint at 33AD being a possibility as this figure is mentioned in verse two as well as other numerous Bible references highlighting December 25th being the accepted date for His birth among ancient Christian groups hundreds of years ago before historical records were kept so accurately for us today.

5 Lastly, some people have interpretted this song as a reference to eternal existence with Jesus through faith and hope that each listener takes away when they hear these heartfelt words coming from singers who are crooning “What Child Is This?” – meant I believe that we may see Him here on earth if we look hard enough or seek Him properly! After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

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