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What Child is This?

This Child is the Eternal King, the Better Prophet, and the Great High Priest

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“What Child is This?” is one of the more Biblical modern Christmas hymns. It came from a longer Christmas poem, “The Manger Throne,” written by William C. Dix, an English lay hymnwriter about 1865. The melody “Greensleeves” is a traditional English folk tune.

The first stanza is made up of rhetorical questions about the newborn Jesus. The second stanza has a rhetorical question in the first two lines, answered by the next two lines. The third stanza is a plea to all to receive him as Prophet, Priest and King. The chorus affirms that the Son of Mary is also the King.

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?

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child (Luke 2:16-17).

This Child is the Eternal King

Chorus:
This, this is Christ, the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matt 2:2).

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16).

This Child is the Better Prophet

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8).

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24).

This Child is the Great High Priest

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

And [the priest] shall take from it a handful of the fine flour and oil, with all of its frankincense, and the priest shall burn this as its memorial portion on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord (Lev 2:2).

And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh (Matt 2:11).

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna [O save us]! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13)

Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews (John 19:39-40).

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph 5:2).

Note: I have misgivings about the last verse, so I would suggest better words:

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, and worship Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts receive Him.

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