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December 14

"Once in Royal David's City" may be most famous as the processional hymn for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols held in King's College Chapel (King's College, Cambridge), which is broadcast worldwide on Christmas Eve. Typically, the first verse of the hymn is sung as a solo by a young boy, the choir sings the second verse, and the congregation joins in on the third verse. The church I grew up in, First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, sang this hymn in the same way one Sunday in Advent every year. My youngest sister, Gwen, really likes this hymn, so I've included it for her.

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Once in Royal David's City

Words: Cecil Frances Alexander, 1848.
Music: IRBY, Henry John Gauntlett, 1849.

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, oppressed, and lowly, Lived on earth our Savior holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden, In whose gentle arms He lay.
Christian children all must be Mild, obedient, good as He.

Jesus is our childhood's pattern, Day by day like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless, Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feels for all our sadness, And He shares in all our gladness.

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.

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