December 16

What Child is This?

At the age of 29, William Dix was living in Glasgow, Scotland working as an insurance salesman.  He contracted a serious illness that left him in bed, and also (eventually) depressed.  For the promising young hymn writer, it looked like his illness would limit his ministry.  But, the Lord is not restricted by our limitations.  In our weakness, the strength of the Lord is often most clearly seen.

It was from this bed of despair that William Dix wrote the hymn “What Child is This?”  The song is a simple Q&A style, where the verses ask questions that the chorus answers. 

  • Question:  “What child is this that lay to rest in Mary’s lap sleeping?” 
  • Answer:  “This, this is Christ the King!” 

In Matthew 16:13-20 Jesus asks His disciples who they thought He was.  Dix’s song points Jesus’ words forward to us.  During the Christmas season we see depictions of Baby Jesus everywhere.  As we see these depictions of Jesus, may we ask ourselves the question of the song, “What child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping?”  Some may say that Jesus is a prophet or a religious leader.  But who do you say that Jesus is?  Is He just those things, or something more?

May we come to know (as Peter did in Matthew 16) that Jesus is the Christ (Savior), the Son of the Living God.  And because He is a living God, He offers us a living hope, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).”

From a place of personal frailty, Dix reminded us of the power of God in Christ.  The Child that lay sleeping on Mary’s lap offers hope and life to all who come to know His true identity and trust in Him.  Who do you say this child is?

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 lamb are feeding?

Good Christian, 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

 

To access all 31 days of “The Christmas Carols” Devotional, click here.

To access playlists for all 31 songs, visit:

 

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