What Child Is This?
The lyrics come from William Chatterton Dix in 1865. The music is “Greensleeves”, which at one time was widely believed composed by Henry VIII for Anne Boleyn. However that theory is still widely debated.
I chose this song to be so high on this list because I love the melody of Greensleeves married to Dix’s lyrics. This is one of the earliest songs I can remember singing at school Christmas concerts (before they become Seasonal Music Festivals). Like “Silent Night” (my #3 song) it is hushed and quiet. The babe is sleeping. The Holy Family is still in their humble surroundings at the manger in verse two, and Dix gives a peek ahead at what the babe’s fate will be. But in verse three that is put aside for now as He is brought gifts. He is being sung to sleep by his mother, something all of us, young and old, yearn for in some smaller part of our being.
The night is chilled. The Star is shining bright in the sky. The newest citizen of the earth, the Son of God, is asleep in his mother’s arms. The heavenly host of angels, the shepherds and the animals are silent. All we hear is a mother’s lullaby.
My favorite traditional version of “Greensleeves” by Loreena McKennitt is here.