The Lost Words of “What Child is This?”

Does your church sing all the words to the Christmas carol “What Child is This?” For decades I sang this song not realizing William Chatterton Dix had written more lyrics many hymnals and churches often leave out. I am not sure how this ommission came to be, but my experience made me wonder how many other people have missed out on this hidden gem in our hymnody. Allow me to share some of the most powerful yet overlooked and unknown words of all our Christmas carols.

Instead of repeating what we often think of as “the chorus” (This, this is Christ the King…), Dix actually wrote other words emphasizing key theological concepts of Christmas:

  • Substitutionary atonement and the incarnation in verse 2
    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.
  • The virgin birth in verse 3
    Raise, raise a song on high,
    The virgin sings her lullaby.
    Joy, joy for Christ is born,
    The Babe, the Son of Mary.

I love how these lyrics poetically portray the truth of the gospel. Sing these lost words at home and in church this Christmas!
~CP

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