What Child Is This?


by Andy Saperstein

It is in Luke’s Gospel, sometimes referred to as “the most beautiful book ever written,” that we encounter the fullest account of the night of Jesus’ birth.  Luke tells us that Jesus came into the world in a shed used for animals and that Mary, his poor Jewish mother, laid him in a feeding trough, as there were no better lodgings available that night.  We do not know who was present at the actual time of his birth – likely only Mary and Joseph and perhaps a local midwife or female relative, but it was a quiet and obscure night in a quiet and obscure place, and until the shepherds arrived, likely the only sounds that night were Mary’s cries during her labor, some subdued voices, and the sounds and stirrings of a few animals.  This was indeed a silent night.

For many of us, our Christmas preparations and celebrations are anything but silent.  It has become a truism that the holiday season is one of the busiest seasons of the year, and many of us simply take a deep breath, press ahead, and hope we get through it.  This year, however, let’s together plan in advance to take regular time this month (you might even consider scheduling little blocks of five or ten minutes on your phone, and even set an alarm to help you remember – I just did 🙂 ) to pause silently before this child in the manger – God incarnate, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Word made flesh, our Savior, Christ the Lord – gaze upon Him, adore Him, and be with Him in silence.

To be sure, Luke is soon to follow his account of this silent night with shepherds and angelic choirs, but it begins with the birth of this Child, this amazing Child – may Jesus fill your Christmas with true worship, with great joy, and with rest in His presence, and may you, your families, and the groups under your care experience once again just what a wonderful Child this is.

What Child Is This?

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.