What Child is This?
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
December 18, 2021
Just a glance at the words “What Child is This?” and immediately the melody of “Greensleeves” starts playing in my head along with the Christmas words about the baby Jesus. The lyrics were written in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix and set to the tune of “Greensleeves,” which was a traditional English folk song at the time, in 1871. The song itself has British origins, but is much more popular in America, perhaps due to its familiar tune.
“Greensleeves,” a broadside ballad, was first known as “A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Green Sleeves” and was registered by Richard Jones in 1580. The tune has been used many times over, mentioned in manuscripts and sung in musicals. It has been a particular favorite of American folk singers and its tune wafts across the Appalachian mountains and feels at home.
William Chatterton Dix, bedridden from a severe illness and suffering greatly, had a near death experience. Then, in his recovery, a spiritual renewal where he devoted himself to reading his Bible each day. He wrote a poem titled “The Manger Throne‘’ along with several others, that eventually became English hymns. He wrote over 40 hymns as gifts of celebration and worship that are still sung today. But none as long standing as what has become our “What Child is This?”
For review, I give you books titled the same as the song, but very different in approach. The stories are not about the song itself, but rather, in each story there is a child.
”What Child is This” by Rhys Bowen is a short story set during Christmas 1940 in the midst of a most destructive Nazi blitz. There is a deserted mansion, and within, people from various social standings who reach out to each other in compassion and care. Jack and Maggie Harris, still grieving the loss of a child, are deeply touched at a time when they need it most.
“What Child is This” by Alice K. Boatwright takes place in a small idyllic Cotswold village where Christmas is being prepared by family, friends and neighbors. But an Oxford student has gone missing, a baby is abandoned and danger draws close. Ellie Kent is the vicar’s new wife and she has a mystery on her hands.
“What Child is This” by Noelle Fox is a light Christmas romance that takes the reader to Alaska where a handsome doctor, a nurse and a child who wants a father for Christmas are drawn together. North Pole, Alaska takes on a whole new light as these people and the patients in their care make their way through a bitter cold winter.
Last, is a devotional titled “What Child is This” by D. Marion Clark. Even though Advent is already in full swing, the 28 days of meditation may still interest some wanting to ponder the questions “what and who is Jesus really?” and “how should His birth make a difference in our lives today?” If you are looking for spiritual guidance during the holidays, this book may open up your thoughts about this child celebrated around the world each December.
On Christmas, Christians celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus in worship, song and gift giving with loving gestures to the people in their lives and generosity to strangers, as well. I think if we looked at each other and saw the baby within, we most certainly would treat others more kindly ... those in need, those troubled, those angry, those lost. I think a single baby in a manger and His life teaches us so. To meet people wherever they are, whoever they are and love them. Merry and blessed Christmas, dear readers!
*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.