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What Child is This? (Congregational Accompaniment)

About the Song

(Accompaniment for Congregation)
Words by William Dix; Traditional melody; Arranged by Sally DeFord

There have been many different harmonizations of this beautiful melody over the years, any of which would have worked–I simply chose the ones I liked best and combined them. The resulting score for the congregation (two half-sized pages) is compiled from public domain sources, and is itself public domain. The other parts of the accompaniment are my own arrangement.

Like the other instrumental accompaniments on this site, this one is written to support a large congregation. The accompaniments vary in difficulty, and in suitability for various uses. You’ll need to analyze the score to determine if the accompaniment fits your particular situation and capabilities.


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

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

Then 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

If you have questions, please check the FAQ
If you don't find your answer there, feel free to post your question here. 🙂


  1. Julie S Calderwood

    Our ward sang this Dec. 24, 2023 and it was such a POWERFUL and spiritually moving congregational number. Thank you, Sally, for offering your gorgeous music for free to so many. You truly have spiritual and musical gifts!

  2. J Day

    Here is my recording of this made with Musescore and PDFtoMusic.


  3. April R Hahl

    Any chance you could make a version of the song in Spanish? All the verses? I live in Houston where a third of the wards in our stake are Spanish-speaking. I want to use this song for an upcoming musical fireside. If you could put the lyrics to the music (like you did for O Holy Night), that would be perfect, so I don’t have to guess where the syllables align with the notes.

    Your music is so wonderful! Thank you for sharing it with everyone!

  4. Judy McCoy

    Thanks for the “What Child is This” duet in the Ensign. It sent me looking, and I found the congregational accompaniment, and so now we have a nice piano/organ duo. I love everything you do. It is always touched by the Spirit.

  5. Dora

    Dear Sally,
    Thank you again. I cannot say enough how much we love and appreciate your music. Our ward choir sang “What Child is This” (with the congregation). This song brought so much spirituality into our Christmas. You are indeed a wonderful daughter of our Heavenly Father. Thanks so much for sharing your special talent with us.
    Dora G. Anderson
    Alamosa CO 4th Ward Choir Director

  6. Camille

    This song is so pretty! I love it!


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