Once in royal David’s city

One of the best-known Christmas carols is “Once in royal David’s city.” It was written by Cecil Frances Alexander whose husband became bishop of Derry. Mrs Alexander, as she was known, wrote 400 hymns including “All things bright and beautiful” and “There is a green hill far away.” She wrote hymns for children many of which were published in her “Hymns for Little Children.”

Carols explain the wonder of the Christmas story. They focus on the birth of Jesus who changed the world and the lives of countless people. “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.

 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 Saviour holy.”

Jesus came from heaven, where he had lived eternally with his Father. He is “God and Lord of all”: both truly God and truly man. He was born the child of a young virgin mother and in lowly circumstances. He came to be the Saviour of all who would put their trust in him. His father, Joseph, was told to give him the name Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.”

During his life Jesus experienced the joys and sorrow of living in this world. “And through all his wondrous childhood 
day by day like us he grew, 
he was little, weak, and helpless,
 tears and smiles like us he knew:
 and he feeleth for our sadness,
 and he shareth in our gladness.

” When we know Jesus as our Saviour, we are greatly encouraged in knowing that he understands everything we experience in this world and can give us strength to face it.

Jesus came into this world to open the way for us to go to heaven where we will see him in all his glory. “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.

 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,
 where like stars his children crowned,
 all in white shall wait around.” That is the hope we all need in our sad and troubled world.

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