Advent Calendar | Dec. 11

14 Days Until Christmas



“Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.” (John 19:34)



'Madonna and Child' by Giovanni Bellini, c. 1455

‘Madonna and Child’ by Giovanni Bellini, c. 1455

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.
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 the song on high!
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy! Joy! For Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!



1. English writer William Chatterton Dix wrote the lyrics to “What Child Is This?” in 1865.

2. Dix was struck suddenly with a near-fatal illness at the age of 29. He was confined to bed rest for several months. It was during this time, while he was in a deep depression, that he wrote many hymns and poems, including “The Manger Throne.”

3. He culled three stanzas from “The Manger Throne,” set them to the traditional English tune “Greensleeves” and titled the new work “What Child Is this?”

4. Dix was born in Bristol in 1837. His middle name was an homage to his father’s favorite poet, Thomas Chatterton. He died in 1898.

5. “Greensleeves” is an old English ballad by an unknown composer.

6. Legend has it that King Henry VIII wrote “Greensleeves” about Anne Boleyn, but this is unlikely because of the style of the music. The song is written in an Italinate style, which did not appear in England until after Henry’s death.

7. “What Child Is This?” was first published in “Christmas Carols New and Old” around 1867.




O God, you sent your Son, and we pierced him with nails and spears. Forgive us. At each Christmas — each new birth of the Christ — we get another chance to treat him better. May we do so this time. Amen.

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