What Child Is This?

Single Release Notes, November 2023

This text, by William C. Dix, is his own modification of a poem he had written entitled “The Manger Throne.”…Most British hymn writers in the nineteenth century were clergymen, but William C. Dix (b. Bristol, England, 1837; d. Cheddar, Somerset, England, 1898) was a notable exception. Trained in the business world, he became the manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland. Dix published various volumes of his hymns, such as Hymns of Love and Joy (1861) and Altar Songs: Verses on the Holy Eucharist (1867). A number of his texts were first published in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861). (Notes from hymnary.org)


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 Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.[Chorus]

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.[Chorus]

Why I chose this song

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs because the verses are in E minor which creates a quiet, calm and reverent mood that goes along with the content of the verses. That is also the reason for the candlelight photo. And then the chorus builds up to G major to create a joyful, proclamation sound, before ending back in the original E minor.

Technical info

Key of E minor, time signature 6/8, verses tempo 80, chorus tempo 120

Stereo recorded in overhead ORTF configuration plus one additional microphone near the left back side.

For this recording, no reverb (reverberation) was applied. The reverb you hear is natural from the piano’s metal harp and solid wood structure. Normalization and dynamic compression were used to increase the volume of the lower and midrange frequency notes to help balance with the melody. The limiter tool was also to use to soften the melody notes, since I tend to be a heavy hitter! Remember when your childhood piano teacher asked you to play with feeling? I didn’t know how to back then, but have discovered feeling can come from the message of the lyrics as well as the musical composition.


Photo by me of LED candlelights set into wood branches that have been drilled out with a 1-1/2″ forstner drill bit.