Who Am I, O Child of Wonder


A new carol on a beautiful Welsh tune by Michael J. Lewis, with original words inspired by the Nativity verse “but Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”  The first verse is sung by the women of the choir, from the point of view of Mary; the second from Joseph’s perspective, sung by the men of the choir.  An a cappella third verse with full sonorities blooms into a full-flowering final verse, with a soprano descant rising gloriously above the unison choir.


This score has optional musical accompaniment available (flute, oboe, (horn) & strings, brass & organ). To get these parts, please contact skpublishinginfo@gmail.com

A licensed copy is required for each member performing.



This new Nativity carol, Who Am I, O Child of Wonder, has itself an unusual “birth story”:

In 2004 I was invited to serve as music director of a CBS Christmas Eve Special to be presented by the Church of the Brethren denomination.  In the course of planning, we found ourselves in need of a fitting carol for a pivotal moment in the service — a carol that would pair well with the Nativity scripture, Luke 2: 18.  That slot lay open for a while, as the perfect carol about Mary’s “pondering heart” was not forthcoming.

Then I attended a concert of the Welsh Choir of Southern California, led by the esteemed film composer/conductor Michael J. Lewis (Emmy-winning composer for the score of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.)  One of his pieces on their program, Rhamant Dau, had a gorgeous melody, and a gorgeous descant (as is common in Welsh hymnsinging.)  It suddenly occurred to me that this melody would be perfect for a new carol, but of course it would need words.  With Michael’s skeptical consent — since Rhamant Dau is a love song on a poem by the celebrated Welsh poet, Eluned Phillips, and a far cry from a Christmas carol — Ryan Harrison and I delved into the work of lyric-writing.  For several weeks we went through draft after draft of what became four carol verses, eventually emerging with a carol that “stood up” to the expectations of its anchoring position for the CBS program.

The following year, I arranged Who Am I for the Juniata College Concert Choir, with string quartet, flute, oboe, and piano.  Various iterations of instrumentation have been developed over the years for use at my church, and the piece eventually was heard at LA’s Disney Concert Hall, performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

Who am I, o child of wonder,
to receive you as my own?
All this night my heart has pondered
what great love our God has shown.
You have come to me in darkness,
In the deepest hour of night.
Now you come, and turn my darkness into light.

Who are you, o child of glory?
Prophets have foretold your birth.
Now the shepherds come to greet you,
Angels sing of peace on earth.
Will you lead us out of darkness,
Walk with us through deepest night?
Have you come to bless the earth with heaven’s light?

Here he lies, his bed a manger,
Holy child, who is God’s own.
Fast asleep, a tiny stranger,
Far from heaven’s glorious throne.
Yet the kings of earth now fear him;
Wise men seek him from afar.
Who is he that shines bright as the Morning Star?

He is Christ, the Prince of Peace,
whose law is Love, whose way is Joy.
Light that overcomes all darkness,
Life that death cannot destroy.
Now he shines, the long-expected,
Now he comes, with us to dwell.
He is Christ, our God-with-us, Emmanuel.

~words by Shawn Kirchner and Ryan Harrison (c) 2004

Additional information


SATB piano (choral score)

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