12 Days of Christmas Carols- What Child is This?

206px-Greensleeves-rossetti-modHere we have a Christmas song whose original tune might still be more famous than the new seasonal lyrics.  “What Child is This?” is set to the old Renaissance love song “Greensleeves.”  A series of folks songs and ballads about “the Lady Greensleeves” were written in England between 1580-1584.  Often played on the lute, “Greensleeves” is a classic Renaissance “lover’s lament,” where the singer cries over lost love and longs for the day that he might win back his lady.  I’m sure that this song was considered public domain and freely modified over the years.  At one point it had 18 verses, each followed by the chorus.  It’s still fairly common to hear this tune with no intended relation to the Christmas carol, and I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about using this one in worship services.  Still, it’s awfully pretty. Continue reading