LDS Hymns



#205 Once in Royal David’s City

Music & voice:
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Music only:
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Lyrics:

1. Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

2. He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And his shelter was a stable,
And his cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior holy.

3. And our eyes at last shall see him,
Through his own redeeming love;
For that child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heav’n above,
And he leads his children on
To the place where he is gone.

Text: Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818-1895
Music: Henry J. Gauntlett, 1805-1876

-History: (Source: Wikipedia)

Once In Royal David’s City is a Christmas carol originally written as poem by Cecil Frances Alexander. The carol was first published in 1848 in Miss Cecil Humphreys’ hymnbook Hymns for little Children. A year later, the English organist Henry John Gauntlett discovered the poem and set it to music.[1] Cecil Alexander, meanwhile, married the Anglican clergyman William Alexander in 1848 and upon her husband’s consecration became a bishop’s wife in 1867.[1] She is also remembered for her hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful.

“Royal David’s City” refers to Bethlehem, which the New Testament records as the historical birthplace of King David, an ancestor of Jesus Christ. Theologically, Alexander’s poem expands a little upon the childhood of Jesus Christ, which is not told in any detail in any of the Four Gospels. Being a children’s poem, it largely dwells upon the more palatable aspects of the Nativity story, with the last verses being a prime example of Victorian morality.[1]

Since 1919, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at the King’s College Chapel Cambridge has begun its Christmas Eve service, with Dr Arthur Henry Mann‘s arrangement of “Once in Royal David’s City” as the Processional hymn.[1] Mann was organist at King’s between 1876–1929.[2] In his arrangement, the first verse is sung by a boy chorister of the Choir of King’s Chapel as a solo. The second verse is sung by the choir, and the congregation joins in the third verse. Excluding the first verse, the hymn is accompanied by the organ. This carol was the first recording that the King’s College Choir under Boris Ord made for EMI in 1948.[3] Among others who have recorded it are Mary Chapin CarpenterThe ChieftainsDaniel O’Donnell, TheMormon Tabernacle ChoirPetula ClarkJethro Tull and Sufjan Stevens.

-Video:




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