Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What Child is This?

This article by Diana Macalintal originally appeared in Eucharistic Ministries, #225, December 2002.

There are two little-known verses of “What Child is This?” that have disappeared from almost all of our hymnals. These lost stanzas by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) invite us to go deeper into the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, even in the middle of our celebration of Jesus’ birth. They remind us that the Paschal Mystery is the “theme” of every season. Next time you see an image of the baby Jesus or hear the angels’ “Gloria,” see, too, the wood of the cross and the lance at the side, and hear, also, the song of the Easter Exsultet, “Rejoice, O heavenly powers, sing choirs of angels!”

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!