Once in Royal David’s City Lyrics
“Once in Royal David’s City” lyrics are words of a Christmas carol hymn that focus on the humble birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
The lyrics also convey the profound message of Christ’s redemptive love and the anticipation of seeing Him in heaven.
The carol is often sung with a sense of reverence and is a beloved part of the Christmas music tradition.
Here are the lyrics to “Once in Royal David’s City”:
Once in Royal David’s City 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 meek, 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. 4 Not in that poor lowly stable, with the oxen standing by, we shall see Him, but in heaven, set at God’s right hand on high; when like stars His children crowned all in white shall wait around.
Who Wrote Once in Royal David’s City Lyrics?
The lyrics for “Once in Royal David’s City” were written by Cecil Frances Alexander.
The carol was first published in 1848 in the hymnal “Hymns for Little Children,” which she also compiled.
Cecil Frances Alexander was an Anglo-Irish hymnwriter and poet, born on April 18, 1818, in County Wicklow, Ireland.
She commenced her journey in verse composition during her childhood. Drawing significant inspiration from Dr. Walter Hook, the Dean of Chichester, played a crucial role in shaping her early poetic endeavors.
As she delved into religious writing later on, her work was markedly shaped by her association with the Oxford Movement, notably with John Keble. Keble, who edited the anthology “Hymns for Little Children,” left a distinct imprint on her religious writings.
Cecil Frances Alexander wrote a significant number of hymns, contributing greatly to Christian hymnody. Her hymns are known for their simple yet profound expressions of faith and biblical truths.
In addition to “Once in Royal David’s City,” other well-known hymns she penned include “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” “There is a Green Hill Far Away,” and “Jesus Calls Us; O’er the Tumult.”
In addition to hymns, Alexander wrote poetry and children’s literature. She believed in the importance of introducing Christian values to children through literature and hymns.
“Hymns for Little Children,” published in 1848, is a collection of her hymns specifically written for children.
Cecil Frances Alexander was involved in various philanthropic activities, particularly in support of the poor and underprivileged. Her Christian faith played a significant role in inspiring her to contribute to charitable causes.
She married William Alexander, who later became the Archbishop of Armagh in the Church of Ireland. Cecil Frances Alexander is best known for her hymns, many of which are still widely sung today.
Her works are appreciated for their timeless messages and ability to convey Christian teachings in a way that resonates with people of all ages.
Cecil Frances Alexander passed away on October 12, 1895. Her hymns remain an enduring part of Christian worship, and her contributions to hymnody and literature have left a lasting legacy.
The Theme of “Once in Royal David’s City” Lyrics
The theme of “Once in Royal David’s City” revolves around the humble and divine aspects of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The lyrics vividly depict the nativity story, emphasizing the contrast between the expected grandeur in a royal city and the simplicity of Jesus’ birth in a lowly cattle shed.
Throughout the hymn, it explores key theological concepts such as the Incarnation, Jesus’ descent from heaven, and his identification with the poor and meek.
Additionally, the lyrics convey a sense of anticipation for the future. They offer hope to believers, anticipating the sight of Jesus through His redeeming love and their journey towards a heavenly destination.
Let’s go through a detailed insight into each verse:
Verse 1: The Humble Birth
The first verse describes the setting in royal David’s city but emphasizes the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth.
The use of a “lowly cattle shed” and a “manger for His bed” highlights the contrast between the expected grandeur of a royal city and the simplicity of the Savior’s arrival.
Mary, portrayed as a gentle mother, gives birth to Jesus.
Verse 2: The Incarnation
The second verse focuses on the theological concept of the Incarnation, expressing the belief that Jesus, who is God and Lord of all, descended from heaven to earth.
The mention of a stable and a stall reinforces the idea of the Son of God being born in humble surroundings, choosing to live among the poor, meek, and lowly.
This reflects the Christian notion of Jesus’ empathy with humanity.
Verse 3: Redemption and Heavenly Destination
The third verse shifts the focus to the future, where believers are assured that their eyes will finally see Jesus through His redeeming love.
The anticipation of seeing the dear and gentle Child, now the Lord in heaven, is a powerful expression of Christian hope. It reflects the theme of redemption in Christian theology.
The verse suggests a future reunion in heaven and the leadership of Jesus, guiding His children to the place where He is.
Verse 4: Heavenly Vision
The final verse contrasts the earthly scene of Jesus’ birth with the anticipated heavenly vision.
Instead of the poor and lowly stable, believers are told they will see Him in heaven, seated at God’s right hand.
The imagery of stars and the symbolism of children crowned in white waiting around convey a sense of celestial glory. This imagery represents the promised reward for believers in the afterlife.
The Hymn Details
|Hymn||Once in Royal David’s City|
|Author||Cecil Frances Alexander|
|First Line||Once in royal David’s city|
|Tune Composer||Henry J. Gauntlett|
Once in Royal David’s City is one of the most beloved and famous Christmas carol hymns.
The lyrics combine narrative storytelling with theological reflection. They emphasize the divine in the midst of human humility and the ultimate heavenly destiny of believers.
It captures the essence of the Christmas story and its profound spiritual significance in Christian belief.
This hymn is traditionally performed during the Christmas season. It is often associated with the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a service that takes place in many Christian churches.
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