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What Child Is This?

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”1

Imagine being a shepherd out in the fields, quietly tending to your flock at nightfall. In your mind this night would be like any ordinary night: keeping watch and fighting off predators. But then… out of the dark night comes a loud voice and bright lights! Would you be afraid? I know I would! This is exactly what happened to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born. Luke tells us that they were filled with great fear! I am sure it took a moment for the shock to wear off and for them to process the information that had been given to them. A Savior had been born? Christ the Lord? In the form of a baby?!

It would have been understandable for these men to doubt and question what was happening in this small town, but they chose to believe the words of the angel, and made haste to go look for this new King that had been born. Luke 2:15 tells us their response, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

This is the scene that William Chatterton Dix had in his mind when he wrote the lyrics to the classic Christmas song, “What Child is This?” He didn’t ask “What child is this?” because he didn’t know the answer, rather I think that much like the shepherds, it was a question out of amazement!

When William was twenty-nine, he was forced to stay in bed for months with a near-fatal illness. He became discouraged and depressed because of his circumstances and began to question God’s existence. This led him to spend much time in prayer and reading Christian books. He was a poet, so he spent time writing during this bedrest as well. Many of the lyrics to his hymns were written during this time, including The Manger Song, which is where “What Child is This?” appeared for the first time in 1865. God became a reality for William in the midst of his illness, and William became a great man of faith – something that can be seen in his poetry.

The Jewish people had been waiting for their King, but never expected him in the form of a child. Yet this was the Savior that had come, sent from God to save us from our sin. When we embrace the truth of who this Child really is, we can know for certain that God is real and that His love for us is greater than we can comprehend.

This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing.

Haste, haste, to bring Him laud, the Babe, the Son of Mary!2

Suggested prayer: Dear God, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to not only be born, but to die for the sins of all mankind. He is the Savior and King which we worship and adore! It is in Him that I have come to know true love. Thank you! In Jesus’ name, amen.

  1. Isaiah 9:6.

  2. “What Child is This?” written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865. Set to the tune of “Greensleeves”, a traditional English folk song, in 1871.


Today’s Encounter was written by: Crystal B.

All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.