The emotional impact of music, combined with deeply meaningful lyrics, is a powerful force in conveying feelings, narratives, and even doctrines. A plethora of songs have become fundamental in churches around the world for their ability to evoke emotions and facilitate an atmosphere of spiritual connection. Among these, two hymns stand out for their profound and moving lyrics: “What Child Is This?” and “How Great Thou Art”. The exploration of their lyrics offers an immersion into their spiritual resonance and significance.
“What Child is This?” – A Mystical Encounter with Divine Birth
“What Child is This?” is a traditional Christmas hymn written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865, while he was recovering from a severe illness. The lyrics were set to the melody of “Greensleeves,” a traditional English folk song. The song retells the story of the nativity of Jesus, questioning and then revealing the identity of the child born in such humble circumstances.
Let’s take a look at the full lyrics:
Each verse paints a vivid scene of the birth of Christ. The lyrics begin by prompting the listener to question who this child could be that commands such reverence from angels and shepherds alike. As the hymn progresses, it provides the answer: this is Christ, the King. The lyrics beautifully encapsulate the awe and wonder of the divine birth, delivering a deep message of hope, joy, and salvation, despite the foretold suffering.
“How Great Thou Art” – An Ode to the Divine Creator
“How Great Thou Art” is another renowned hymn of Christian faith. Originally a Swedish traditional hymn, it was translated into English by British missionary Stuart K. Hine in 1949. The song’s lyrics are a majestic tribute to God’s grandeur as observed in the natural world and the redemptive act of Christ.