Home ]

About Us
Learning Aids
Bulletin Board
Comments To Share
Contact Us







We will be adding more tablature arrangements ...please visit again

Archive What Child is This and Greensleeves mountain dulcimer tablature arrangement in the 1-3-5 tuning www.mountaindulcimer-...



What Child is This?


Lyrics: Wm. C. Dix (1837-1898)

Music: “Greensleeves” (Anonymous)

Arr: Ruth Randle

William Dix was born in Bristol, England where he received his education. Although he managed a marine insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland for a period of time, he is remembered as a poet and composer with more than 40 hymns and books to his credit. He selected the traditional English tune “Greensleeves”, then already some 300 years old, as the music for his verses for What Child is This, published in 1865.

Ruth has arranged this Christmas carol for a D-F#-A tuning, with the melody played in the key of Bm. (Those with some understanding of music theory will recognize that Bm is the relative minor of the key of D). The arrangement plays easily and is quite enjoyable. In measures 3, 11, 21 and 29 Ruth shows optional chords involving notes requiring the 1+ fret. Those not having that fret may ignore this option and simply play the melody note shown in boldface notation.


Now for a brain-teaser, for those interested: Here we are dealing with music composed during the lifetimes of both Shakespeare and King Henry VIII of England (about 1560).

Some feel that Henry himself composed the music, possibly for the lute, but this isn’t confirmed. We do know that the Puritans “brought” the music for Greensleeves with them when they landed in Plymouth in 1620, and it was played extensively as far south as Virginia. Was the tune already chromatic? (Notice the numerous A# and G# notes in Ruth’s arrangement. If so, this melody line couldn’t have been played on the early scheitholts or dulcimers available at the time, nor until late into the 1800’s. This is because those instruments had no frets beneath the middle and bass “drone strings”. All the scales available were diatonic, in different modal spacings on the melody string. The dulcimers catalogued in collections verify this.

Many dulcimer arrangements of folk music indicate that Greensleeves is a classic example of music to be played in the Aeolian mode. For a “D” tuning, this means D-A-c, with the keynote D falling on the first note of the melody string, the scale being what we would today call Dm: D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C-D (this is the same scale for F Major).

Included with this month’s selection is Merv’s arrangement of Greensleeves in D-A-c, played using only the melody notes accompanied by open drone strings. When you play this, you will realize that this version has no chromatic notes whatsoever. The only way those chromatic notes in today’s version of Greensleeves can be played on the diatonic dulcimer is to find them on the middle string. This, of course requires full-width frets, a feature that became standard during the 1950’s.



What Child Is This?


1. 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?

    This, this is Christ the King,

    whom shepherds guard and angels sing;

    Haste, haste to bring Him laud,

    The Babe, the Son of Mary.


2, Why lies He in such mean estate

    where ox and ass are feeding?

    Good Christian, fear: for sinners here

    the silent Word is pleading.

    Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,

    the cross be borne for me, for you.

    Hail, hail the Word made flesh,

    the Babe, the Son of Mary.


3. So bring Him incense, gold, & myrrh,

    come, peasant, king, to own Him;

    The King of kings salvation brings,

    let loving hearts enthrone Him.

    Raise, raise a song on high,

    the virgin sings her lullaby.

    Joy, joy for Christ is born,

    the Babe, the Son of Mary.


1, Alas, my love, thou dost me wrong

    to cast me out discourteously,

    For I have loved thee oh, so long,

    Delighting in your company.



Greensleeves was all my joy,

Greensleeves was my delight;

Greensleeves was my heart of gold,

And who but my ladie Greensleeves?


2. I have been readie at your hand,

    to grant what ever you would crave

    I have both waged life and land,

    your love and good will for to have.




3. Thou couldst desire no earthly thing,

    But still thou hadst it readily,

    Thy musicke still to play and sing,

    And yet thou wuldst not love me.




4. Greensleeves now farewell, adieu,

    God I pray to prosper thee,

    For I am still thy lover true,

    Come once again and love me.



 <Click here> for interchangeable lyrics for What Child Is This and Greensleeves
Ruth's arrangement of "What Child Is This" in D-F#-A 








Merv's arrangement of "Greensleeves" in D-A-c







  Click to go to the TablEdit website and download their free demo version

If you do not have the Tabledit program, please click on the TablEdit banner to download a free .tef reader program.  It includes the ability to play this song at a slower speed (great for learning). TablEdit is a program for creating, editing, printing and listening to tablature and sheet music (standard notation) for fretted, stringed instruments.

  Click here to download a free version of Adobe Reader

Adobe® Reader® is a free software for viewing and printing Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.


At this time we will be using the .MIDI music files produced by TablEdit..




About Us ] Learning Aids ] FAQs ] Products ] Schedule ] Bulletin Board ] Reviews-News ] Archives ] Comments To Share ] Links ] Contact Us ]


This website is brought to you by Merv Rowley, Ruth Randle, Elizabeth DiPietri, and Gail West
Please email gwest1955@aol.com with any website questions, broken links, etc.
Copyright © 2005