William Chatterton Dix – his second name refers to Bristol’s childhood prodigy poet, Thomas Chatterton – was born in Bristol in 1837. Although he moved away from the city to pursue his career he returned to the area later in his life and died in 1898 in the village of Cheddar where he is buried in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Parish Church.
Dix provided the texts of two well-known hymns for Christmas time: ‘As with gladness men of old’, written in 1858/9, is a hymn for Epiphany; and ‘What child is this’, published in 1871. The first hymn is normally sung a tune called DIX. It was adapted by WH Monk (1823-1889) from a chorale melody written by Conrad Kocher (1786-1872). ‘What child is this’ is associated with the well-known English melody called ‘Greensleeves’.
Another well-known hymn by Dix is ‘Alleluia! sing to Jesus’, a hymn for communion and often sung to HYFRYDOL composed by R.H. Prichard (1811-1887).
The tune DIX written for William Chatterton Dix’s hymn text ‘As with gladness men of old’.