Editor’s note: This article was originally published in December 2020 and has been updated.
In a music video from The Piano Guys, viewers are asked to contemplate the question, “What Child Is This?”
During the video, which currently has over 1 million views on YouTube, pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson play the beloved Christmas song at the Church’s Motion Picture Set in Goshen, Utah, with the sun just peeking above the mountains which are silhouetted at their backs. Other scenes show the city Jerusalem as it would have looked in Christ’s time.
In another video, Dallas Jenkins of The Chosen—the first multi-season show about the life of Christ—says the first time he ever saw the Church’s set was in The Piano Guys‘ recording of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” which was filmed at the same location.
“I saw the beautiful video that you guys did, and I thought, ‘Boy, that set’s amazing, boy that’d be amazing for The Chosen, and so many miracles had to happen to actually get us here, and now we’re here working together,” Jenkins said.
When Jenkins asked why The Piano Guys returned to Goshen to film the Christmas song, Nelson spoke about the spirit they had felt there previously.
“Talk about a joyous reuniting with this set. We had such a tremendously spiritual experience when we filmed ‘O Come, Emmanuel.’ It was an ineffable experience. Words couldn’t absolutely climb to what we felt,” he says.
Nelson added his thoughts about bringing people closer to Christ through location and the meaning of the music itself.
“There’s something consecrated about geography that’s attached to . . . helping other people discover the stories of Jesus, because in the stories of Jesus is the hope, faith, and peace we all need in this world right now,” he says. “‘O Come, Emmanuel’ is a struggle about Israel needing to be ransomed. ‘What Child Is This?’ is staring at this baby in a manger thinking . . . ‘What is the meaning of this? . . . Where it switches from minor to major in this song is that moment where you feel the discovery happening and flowing through you . . . and feeling that, ‘Hey, this is going to work out. Even though I’m looking at the manger and this baby in poverty, how could this be the King of all of us—and yet somehow, it’ll make sense one day.’”
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Schmidt added that the manger itself represented the condescension of Christ going below everything. The YouTube description also testified of the Savior and wished peace for listeners everywhere regardless of their religion or background this Christmas season.
“This is Jesus, powerful enough to command angels but so concerned with the worth of every soul, especially those overlooked, that He would ask shepherds instead to guard Him as he slept; a King of countless subjects whose birth would change the reckoning of time itself, and yet a homeless Teacher who spent all of His time to heal the one. This is Jesus, who can touch something entirely ordinary and make it extraordinary—who can touch any willing soul, labeled as worthless by the world, and make it priceless,” the description said.
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