Royal David's City
Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818-95
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.
.......the first strains of "Once in Royal Davids City" are beamed across the Adantic, one clear line sung by a young boy, a first-year member of King's College Choir. Custom runs deep in Cambridge, England. Every year since 1919 the Christmas Eve Service of Nine Lessons and Carols has opened with the same word, "Once ...," intoned by a solitary child.
I understand there's another element of the tradition. All the- eight-year-old choirboys are ready to sing that unaccompanied solo, the note awaited around the world. No one knows whom the choirmaster will choose—-until it's time to queue up.
Everyone is prepared.
As was Mary, once in Nazareth.
As was the Son, once in heaven-—-at the appointed time ready and willing to become flesh and live among us.
He came down to earth from heaven, Who is God and Lord of all . . .
With the poor and mean and lowly Lived on earth our Savior holy.
As was Cecil Frances Alexander once in Ireland, who, in the words of the apostle, was "prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks ... the reason for the hope" within her (1 Peter 3:15). I would emphasize everyone, because Alexander wrote some four hundred hymns or poems, nearly all of them attempts to explain the Christian faith to children in her Sunday school. An Anglican pastor's wife keenly aware of the liturgical calendar, she composed a poem for every Sunday of the year and all the holy days. She also wrote hymns that explicated the Apostles' Creed—for children, but with such eloquence that a number are still sung and appreciated by old and young alike. Such as "Once in Royal David's City" her elaboration of the creedal "I believe ... / in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; / who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, / born of the Virgin Mary"
Once as a grown man, our Lord asked his disciples—of all generations, even ours—to be prepared to meet their Creator. "Keep watch," he said, "because you do not know the day or the hour" (Matthew 25:13).
"When you will be "called home."
When Jesus—now returned to the Father in heaven— will come back to earth, this time to claim the redeemed. To judge the quick and the dead.
And our eyes at last shall see him,
Through his own redeeming love; For that child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And he leads his children on To the place where he is gone.
Are you prepared to follow?
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.
Are you prepared for the meeting?
When like stars his children crowned All in white shall wait around.
Are you prepared to sing your part?
From the book "Spiritual Moments with the Great Hymns" by Evelyn Bence
Though this hymn is associated with Christmas (which feast is a Roman Catholic Mass adopted from the pagan culture of the Roman Empire, fully explained on my website) and in a few places gives the impression you go on living with the Lord in heaven at death (also a wrong theological teaching proved on my website); nevertheless, this has a beautiful melody, and with a few word changes, can be a fine hymn, a splended hymn. I have argued and proved on my website that if we sing about the many aspects of the life of Christ, we should also sing about his birth as a physical human. And so this hymn with its beautiful melody should be part of our Christian hymn books in the Sabbath observing Churches of God.