048.WhatChildIsThis

Please turn to number 48 and join with the winds on “What Child Is This”.

First Line: What Child is This
Name: GREENSLEEVES
Meter: 8 7, 8 7. With Refrain.
Tempo: In moderate time
Music: English, before 1642
Text: William Chatterton Dix, 1837-98

First, the tune is an English folk tune called “Greensleeves” of unknown origin.

Wikipedia, as usual, Greensleeves.

Several versions of the song were registered, the earliest in the late 16th Century:

A broadside ballad by this name was registered at the London Stationer’s Company in September 1580,[2] by Richard Jones, as “A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves”.[3]

The tune was apparently quite popular at the time, as Shakespeare mentions it in a couple places in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (written, c.1597; first published in 1602).

The text of the hymn “What Child is This?” comes from a Poem by William Chatterton Dix:

At the time he was writing the lyrics to “What Child Is This?” in 1865, William Chatterton Dix was working as the manager of an insurance company.[5] He was afflicted by an unexpected and severe illness that resulted in him being bedridden and suffering from severe depression. Hisnear-death experience brought about a spiritual renewal in him while he was recovering. During this time, he read the Bible comprehensively and was inspired to author hymns like “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!” and “As with Gladness Men of Old“.[1][4] The precise time in 1865 when he wrote the poem “The Manger Throne” is disputed. While the St. Petersburg Times details how Dix penned the work after reading the Gospel for Epiphanythat year (Matthew 2:1–12) recounting the journey of the Biblical Magi;[6] Singer’s Library of Song: Medium Voice contends that it was actually authored during the Christmas of 1865.[4]

They Hymn version was first published in an English Hymnal in 1871.

Here’s the clarinet and Soprano Sax Arrangement: 048-whatchildisthis

I’ve been enjoying playing Sax as the melody on these, so I continued the trend with What Child is this. Doubled all the clarinet parts and used the usual Audacity “Large Room” Reverb effect.

I was thinking I might try some improvisation the second time through, but listening to Coltrane’s version just made me feel self conscious of my own inadequacies.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal