'What Child is This' Chords

Learn Christmas Songs on Guitar

What Child is This
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Note: If the chords and lyrics below appear poorly formatted in your browser, download this PDF of "What Child is This", which is both properly formatted for printing and ad-free.

Performance Tips

This song is played in 3/4 waltz time - meaning there are three beats per bar. If you'd like to play the song in the simplest way possible, simply strum each chord three times per bar using all downstrums - counting 1 2 3 1 2 3 - accenting the first strum in each bar.

For a slightly more complicated strum, try "down, down up down up" (aka "one, two and three and"). Each line of lyrics above represents four bars of music - in some cases, a single chord will be held for two bars. Use your ear to determine when to switch chords.

A History of "What Child is This"

Originally written as a poem in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix, "What Child is This" was later set to the melody of "Greensleeves". Although written in England, the song is considered to be one of the classic American Christmas carols.

What Child is This

Chords Used: Em | G | D | Bm | B7

Words by William Dix, 1865.  
Traditional English melody.

       Em      G         D       Bm
What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
   Em            B7
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
     Em     G          D       Bm
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
      Em        B7        Em
While shepherds watch are keeping?

chorus:
  G             D  
  This, this is Christ the King,
       Em                  B7
  Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
  G               D
  Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
      Em        B7     Em
  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.
(chorus)

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
(chorus)