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The Song of the Week

16 November 2009




SongsI have been listening to a song on ‘replay’ in the car, as I drive to and from work daily. Because David’s voice is so breathtakingly beautiful on this song, I have been touched deeply by this familiar carol. It is from David Archuleta’s new Christmas CD, Christmas from the Heart. As a child growing up, I had heard this carol sung many times, but I was never drawn to it the way I have been with David’s rendition. Hearing David sing this song makes it seem like I have only now heard it for the first time. He has an incredible way of doing that…singing a song so beautifully and with his own original flair, that you would swear it was the first time you had ever experienced the pleasure of listening to it!

This song is a traditional Christmas carol that I have sung in church many times over the years. When I was a child, I would sing it during the holiday season as I went caroling with friends throughout the neighborhood. But until recently I had never really felt the song the way I have since hearing David’s version. It has since become one of my favorites!

The Song of the Week is…

“What Child Is This?”

“What Child Is This?” is a popular ‘Christmas carol,’ also known as “Greensleeves.”  It was written in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix. Dix was a popular hymn writer of his time, who also wrote carols. The word ‘carol’ or ‘carole’ is a medieval word of French and Anglo-Norman origin, believed to mean a ‘dance song’ or ‘circle dance’  which was accompanied by singing.

Carols expressed religious joy and were often associated with the Christmas season. During the 14th century carols became a popular religious song form. The theme often revolved around the Christ child, the Virgin Mary, or a saint. Sometimes the blending of two languages, such as English and Latin, were incorporated into the carol.  By the 15th century the carol was considered to be a form of ‘art’ music.  During this time, elaborate arrangements of these songs were made. They became an important contribution to English medieval music. By the 16th century, the popularity of carols began to die down and they almost disappeared entirely.  Fortunately, a revival of the carol began by the middle of the 18th century.  Most of the carols we have come to enjoy today, like “What Child Is This?”,  were written during this time period.

It has been reported that Dix wrote the carol “What Child Is This?” in 1865 at the age of 29, while he was recovering from a sudden near-fatal illness and confined to bed rest for several months. The three verses were written and harmonized with the famous melody, “Greensleeves”. That melody was a traditional popular English melody that had been used in many texts during the 14th century. The carol “What Child Is This?” was first published in Christmas Carols New and Old around 1867. Here are the original lyrics that William Dix wrote for “What Child Is This?”.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 song “What Child Is This?” has been covered by multiple artists over time, but David Archuleta’s version, in my opinion, is the most beautiful.

David Archuleta singing “What Child Is This?” from his recently released Christmas from the Heart:

“What Child Is This?”

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 mule are feeding?
Good Christians, fear; for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

This, this is Christ the king,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
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.

Honthorst, Gerard van. Adoration of the Shepherds. 1622. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.

As always, have a great week all and I wish you well! 😉

Listen to Song of Last Week.

David Archuleta, the Voice

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This Post has earned 4 Buzzes.

4 responses so far ↓

  • pikepss | 1 | 16th November 2009 at 10:30 am |

    Thank you for picking such a lovely song this week. I also replay this over and over in the car. David has such a spiritual nature this song is just perfect for him.

  • lyrix | 2 | 19th November 2009 at 12:54 am |

    I am really enjoying reading these posts about these songs. Thank you again for doing this. 🙂

  • Song of the Week (unregistered) | 23rd November 2009 at 12:28 am |

    […] Listen to Song of Last Week. […]

  • Nann (unregistered) | 22nd December 2012 at 11:07 am |

    What an unspeakably beautiful song and a message that goes beyond words as well. The silent Word…the virgin sings a lullaby…indeed, what Child IS this? Let our loving hearts enthrone Him today and always! The King of Kings! Merry Christmas! I loved David Archuleta on American Idol and would like to hear that CD!