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.

This hymn was written by Cecil Frances Alexander, who was born in Dublin, Ireland. She wrote many hymns for children because she thought it was the best way to teach them the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Her husband, William Alexander, became the bishop of Derry and archbishop of Armagh. Cecil Frances also wrote ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful,’ as well as the Easter hymn ‘There is a Green Hill Far Away.’

‘Once in Royal David’s City’ tells the events of our Savior’s birth in a storybook form. You can tell that it was intended for children because throughout the hymn children are encouraged to live their lives faithfully to please Jesus. This is what makes the carol a favorite among church families across the world. It expresses the wonderful story in simple terms that young children can understand.

Points to ponder

Who told me about the Christmas story when I was a child? How am I passing on that story to younger generations?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You began Your life in humble places to simply remind us of the plain truth about Your mission to save the world. Open our hearts and minds to simply believing in You, Your Word, and Your continuing ministry to all generations throughout the world. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Today’s image is one of John’s Nativity drawings called ‘Small Town Miracle.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click here.

You can watch and listen to this carol being beautifully sung by the Choir of Selwyn College in Cambridge, England on Youtube: