The true test of musical greatness is when a piece of music transcends temporary popular culture and becomes a part of every generation’s culture.

A Blockbuster

The melody, “Greensleeves,” has survived for 500 years and is as familiar today as it has ever been. There is no reason to believe it will not be around in another 500 years time. That puts it on par with the great musical compositions of all time.

The tune is soulfully beautiful.

The lyrics to “What Child Is This” are some of the most succinct of all the songs of Christmas. It takes just under three minutes to sing the entire carol at its intended pace.

But how did the two come together to create a blockbuster of a carol?

Out of Depression

William C. Dix was a successful insurance salesman in Glasgow, Scotland. He took sick with a sudden, serious illness at the age of twenty-nine.

Dix suffered a deep depression and was confined to bed for an extended period. He called out to God and God “met Him in a new and real way.” Out of this spiritual experience came many artistic and distinctive hymns, including this carol. It was taken from one of Dix’s longer Christmas poems, “The Manger Throne.”

Dix wrote the poem in 1865 just as the American Civil War was just drawing to a close. After four years of brother fighting brother, the hope conveyed through the poem captured the hearts of Americans. Twenty years later, the lyrics were married to the “Greensleeves” melody, carving out a place in Christmas history.

Is this carol in your Top 10 Christmas tunes? Please leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

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Bob Jones

Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 42 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love inspiring people through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, and reading. I'm a fan of the Double E, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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