Greensleeves vs. What Child is This – The Tale of 2 Songs – SLS

This week for Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has prompted us with songs dealing with Christmas/Holiday/Snowman in the title or in the song.

Bet you thought I was going to give you more Elvis. I have to admit, I thought about it.

Frank & I picked up my brother-in-law from the airport yesterday and one of the topics that came up was “Greensleeves” and how I loved playing it in band my freshman year in High School. I sat first chair in the French Horn Section. I loved the tone & power it gave me to play such a beautiful song. My brother-in-law is a master pianist and music teacher. Once we got home from all our errands, I turned on the TV and Faith Hill was belting out “What Child is This“. The conversation from earlier with my brother-in-law and hubby, plus being blessed with Faith Hill seemed like a sign and became my inspiration for today.

Yesterday was the birthday of my granddaughter, Aniya who would have been 11. Aniya passed away 34 days after she was born, and I think my angels of Aniya, my mom and my grandmother were channelling me to do this particular pair of songs. More on the Christmas carol than the original, of course.

For many years, I only knew the tune to be Greensleeves. As I got older and heard versions of “What Child is This”, I quickly recognized the tune and thought someone got it wrong. The words were not the same, but the melody certainly was. Back then, we didn’t have the internet to get answers quickly and for me to read a history book just wasn’t going to happen.

“Greensleeves”

“Greensleeves” is a traditional English folk song that was registered by Richard Jones at the London Stationer’s Company in September 1580. It was registered as “A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Green Sleeves”. Wow, that’s a mouthful. It was composed anonymously, but one of the claims is that Henry VIII wrote it for Anne Boleyn. Allegedly, Lady Greensleeves was a loose woman and the song came from Irish origins. She supposedly rejected the King when he began pursuing her in 1526. She caved at some point since she became the Queen of England and Henry VIII’s second wife in 1533. She was beheaded on May 19, 1536.

Alas my love you do me wrong
To cast me off discourteously;
And I have loved you oh so long
Delighting in your company.
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves my heart of gold
Greensleeves was my heart of joy
And who but my lady Greensleeves.
I have been ready at your hand
To grant whatever thou would'st crave;
I have waged both life and land
Your love and goodwill for to have.
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves my heart of gold
Greensleeves was my heart of joy
And who but my lady Greensleeves.
Thy petticoat of slender white
With gold embroidered gorgeously;
Thy petticoat of silk and white
And these I bought gladly.
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves my heart of gold
Greensleeves was my heart of joy
And who but my lady Greensleeves.

“What Child is This”

“What Child is This” is a Christmas ballad written to the melody of “Greensleeves”. Complete different connotation. The lyrics were written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865 in Great Britain. The lyrics were taken from a poem written by Dix called “The Manger Throne”. The song was not published until 1871. It is not known when the 3 stanzas of the poem were put to the music of “Greensleeves”. Below is an awesome rendition by Andrea Bocelli & Mary J. Blige.

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?
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come Peasant, King to own Him
The King of Kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
Oh, raise, raise a song on high,
His mother sings her lullaby.
Joy, oh joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe,
The Son,
Of Mary.
What Child
Is this
Who laid
To rest
On Mary's lap
On Mary's lap
He is sleeping
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe,
The Son,
Of Mary
The Babe, the Son of Mary
The Son of Mary

15 Comments on “Greensleeves vs. What Child is This – The Tale of 2 Songs – SLS

    • My grandmother was born on Christmas and died on December 18th. I honestly get sad for a brief moment and then think that it is just a part of life. Itโ€™s hard but it makes me stronger to create new memories with friends and family that are in our life now. I celebrate all of them as the world celebrates Christโ€™s birth. ๐Ÿ˜Š. Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Greensleeves really is a beautiful song, thanks for explaining its origins. Andrea Bocelli & Mary J. Blige make a great duet. What Child is This was written by William Chatterton Dix, in 1865.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I loved playing Greensleeves in band, too. I played flute so we usually got the melody which was fun and a little easier for me. I did not know about the origin of the song. Great choice. Beautiful music.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautiful video of Greensleeves, but I’m absolutely blown away by Andrea and Mary! Would never have thought those two voices could blend so perfectly! Fantastic share!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŽ„

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I suppose playing Greensleeves on French Horn was never easy. At Christmas, I have a nostalgic as you do to sing or play those old Christmas standards. Merry Holidays and happy hiking. USFMAN

    Liked by 1 person

    • Merry Christmas to you and your family! I played the double horn. I was good but itโ€™s only a dream of a time when I was young. It would take months for me to be able to play again.

      Like

  5. Ahaa…Christmas is over but I was delighted to learn the two songs and I love them …thanks to you Lisa.
    I’ve never heard of them before๐Ÿ™‰…but you know folks are always learning…right?

    Liked by 1 person

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