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!
If “Oh, Come, Emmanuel” is a plainchant from the Middle Ages, “What Child Is This?” is a romantic ballad from Renaissance England. The tune is lively enough in its triple time to dance to, and the content of William Dix’s beautiful stanzas helps every singer figure out just what Christmas is all about. As fans of the New Orleans Saints would say, “Who dat?”
The Christmas miracle—God made man, omnipotence and weakness, vast reach and tiny fingers—is absolutely the most perfect example of God’s upside-down way of getting his agenda accomplished. In the smallness of a baby, our God has come to earth. This tiny Child has come to our world to do nothing less than do battle with sin and Satan.
But he’s big enough. Because in that little head is the mind of God, and in those little hands is power to heal and protect. He became incarnate to have a life to live in our place and to have a life to give in our place. That is what Child this is.
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and become obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7,8).