Friday, December 24, 2010

What Child Is This?

I have a collection of Christmas carols and I do enjoy playing the easy versions on the piano as my family gathers around to sing. I'm copying the original words to my favorite hymn, written by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898). Most of you will recognize this is as the tune to 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.

The newer versions all use the second stanza as the refrain. I prefer this original one so much more, with the refrain having different words -- words that portend the ultimate sacrifice as well. I suppose I am an Easter gal even at Christmas ... The three Kings bear the baby Jesus gifts of gold, for the King of Kings, frankincense for the priests of priests and myrrh for the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. How Great is our Lord, who humbles himself to come as an infant, to come and live with us, to die for us, so that we may have eternal life. Come, be merry this Christmas! And God bless you all.

About the photos: The first is a statue that is in St. James Cathedral in Seattle and the second is the Pieta (sorry, but I don't know how to make accents, but it means pity) made by Michelangelo located in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.


Marcia said...

I also love this song. While I've also heard the last refrain here and there, I've hardly ever heard the middle one (nails, nails).LOVE the line about gold for the king, frankincense for the priest, and myrrh for the sacrifice.

Merry Christmas, Vijaya.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Amen! Wonderful post.

Have a blessed Christmas day tomorrow!


anna said...

I love that carol too. It sounds as though you and your family keep christmas beautifully. I saw the Pieta traveling when I was younger and it's really lovely to see it here again. I hope you had a wonderful, sacred christmas day.

Vijaya said...

Marcia, Amy and Anna: thank you for stopping by and I hope you are enjoying the Christmas season. I do so love this time of the year with my kids, especially since they go to school and time with them is fleeting.

Marcia, when we went through RCIA, we were given gifts of fools gold, frankinscence and myrrh at epiphany and I treasure them, and will never forget what they were for.

Anna, I hope to take my kids to Rome some day and also to the Holy Land. Right now it's through books!