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What Child is This?

About the Song

Traditional words and music arranged by Sally DeFord.

Both versions of this arrangement are very simple, and easy to learn.  The two-part choir uses the traditional rhythms, but I messed with them a bit in the SA.  Either one can be used solo, but take some liberties with the rhythms or breathing will be a problem. 🙂

Spotify, Soundcloud (inc. free downloads)

Recording featuring vocals by Roberta Stark:

Recording featuring vocals by The Kidmans:

(There are no free downloads for these tracks.)


  (Video provided to YouTube by outside parties may contain ads that may be skipped after a few seconds.)


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. Beverly Wilson

    Thanks for this. You saved my bacon once again!!!
    God bless Sally DeFord!
    Merry Christmas

    • Sally DeFord

      Most people would agree that bacon is worth saving! 😉

  2. Jane hudson

    Hi I am looking for guitar accompaniment for this. Just wondered if there was any for this?

  3. Rebecca Phillips

    I’m trying to find a recording of sally DeFord’s What Child is This but although I’m singing various recordings I can’t find one that sings the correct timing as written in DeFord’s arrangement. It is clearly written with two 16th notes in the phrases, which differed from the traditional timing found in measure 5.
    Even the recordings on the website gave the traditional timing and not what’s written. What does the arranger want in her piece?

    • Sally DeFord

      Heh… well, I want the performers to own the rhythms and sing it the way they feel it. So have fun with it! 🙂

  4. JaLayne Pugmire

    First I want to thank you for the hours of beautiful music you have provided. There’s just not words to let you know how much I appreciate it.

    Now I have a question is there a violin part for What Child Is This? If so how would I access it?

  5. Michael Smith

    I am looking for the version that was copyrighted in 2000. It can be sung as duet or two-part woman. It is 3 pages long. It has one sharp (F). The chorus is offset with two singers, both starting with an E.

    The harmony (second singer sings these notes in the offset…
    E, G, G, F#, G, A, A, A, B…and so on.

    Can you help me find this version please?

    • Kami Stewart

      Did you find it? I’m looking for that one, too!

  6. Kathy Jones

    Is there any piano accompaniment that can be downloaded for this song?

    • Avonlea Brighton

      The music for the Kidmans’ version found on the “Sacred Music” app, under “Music from the Ensign” and “Music from the Liahona”.

  7. Sharon Elkington

    Is this free?

  8. Angela B. Crook

    Thank you Sally for all the beautiful music you have produced for us to sing freely in our ward choirs. I really appreciate you generously sharing your gift of beautiful music.
    Angela B. Crook

  9. shanea Fulks

    Where can I find the sheet music for the Kidman’s version of What Child Is This?

    • Marylee

      The Kidman’s version is the What Child is This-Duet Two part choir version with the lower voice singing the men’s part an octave higher I believe.

  10. Paulina

    !Muchas gracias por su gran labor y generosidad! Ojalá algún día pudiera subir el audio del acompañamiento

  11. Carmen Lopez

    No accompaniment track? Oh pretty please.

  12. Jody

    Hi sally, I love the Kidman’s harmony. Is the sheet music for that arrangement available? Thank you!!

  13. Jennifer

    Thank you so much for all you do! You are amazing to share these arrangements so freely! If you have an accompaniment only version, I would love to get that! Thanks!

  14. Sarah

    A long time ago, you had an audio of, I think, three sisters singing this arrangement and they had added a third part. Do you remember this? I love your arrangement and have a third person I would love to give her own part. Thank you so much for posting all your music. It is a huge blessing and is so beautifully written!!!

    • Jodie

      I absolutely loved listening to this version as well and miss being able to access it here.
      It was sung by The Kidmans.

      • sallydeford

        Yeah, I know… it’s taking me awhile to get everything in order after the overhaul. This one is back up. Others will follow. Eventually. 🙂

        • Jody

          Yes, it’s gorgeous. I’m having trouble figuring out which sheet music goes with the Kidman’s arrangement? Is it on here?

          • sallydeford

            They basically used the Duet or Two-part Choir version, and added a few things of their own that don’t appear in the score.

  15. JoAnna Thompson

    I’m wanting to hear the two parts! Do you have a recording of it with both parts? I don’t play the piano and want to hear how it would go for a young women and young men choir.

    • Marie

      Hi. I would love to hear the alto part got WHAT CHILD IS THIS. Do you have a recording Thanks it a lovely arrangement.

  16. Alisa

    I’m just curious why the 2nd part in measures 31, 39, and 42 is different when you compare the SA arrangement to the Duet or 2-part choir arrangement. Is there a specific reason you wanted them different?

    • sallydeford

      I wrote it that way for the specific occasion for which we were using it. The arrangement isn’t different enough to warrant its own page though. 🙂

  17. Nefertity

    Do you have the accompaniment along with the different parts?

  18. Jerilyn Waterfall

    Is there a download of just the accompaniment?

  19. Sandi Clayton Burgess

    Love this arrangement. Is there flute obligato?

  20. MaRee Wilson

    Thank you Sally for providing such beautiful music for church use. I live in a very small branch and have been asked to do a choir which has been very challenging. Thanks to you I can find music which is very adaptable and available without having to purchase the music. We do not live in a area that provides easy access to church publications except through the internet and I am not that familiar with the process. Thank you for your kindness and your sharing.

  21. Selvadoss

    I am really very happy for listening to such a beautiful song with so nice voice.

  22. Amy

    Sally, thank you so much for making your music available. We had a women’s sextet sing this in December and it was absolutely beautiful!

    • Cathy Pasco

      Hi there. My highschool would love to sing this arrangement🥰 Is there a download for the accompaniment too? That would be great help for us😊

  23. Carl

    Just wanted to thank you for all of your efforts to make your wonderful arrangements and compositions available to us poor folk. We use your stuff all the time in church, and I love it. My daughter and I are singing What Child is This in church this Sunday. So nice to have this music so easily available. You are a good person!

    Thanks again.



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