Once in Royal David’s City

The Truth Behind the Song

Royal David's CityThe Christmas song “Once in Royal David’s City” was written by a hymn-writer and poet named Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander. The carol was originally written as a poem and it was first published in 1848 on a hymnbook entitled “Hymns for Little Children.”

She is also highly recognized for writing several poems for children such as the well-known “All Things Bright and Beautiful” which speaks about God’s majestic creation. One year later, an English organist named Henry John Gauntlet discovered the said poem and added the musical arrangements. Based from the carol, “Royal David’s City” is much associated with the town of Bethlehem, where Jesus Christ was born.

Apart from that, according to readings from the New Testament of the Holy Bible, it is also the historical birthplace of of King David, an ancestor of Jesus Christ.Alexander’s is fit for a Christmas carol because it talks about the childhood of Jesus Christ in a more imaginative way. She uses descriptive words and adjectives that could help people, especially children, picture what occurrences took place during the birth of our Saviour.

Even though ideas about Jesus being frail and weak as a child were not very much depicted in the Sacred Scriptures, the song helps us envision how our Messiah was- gentle, obedient to his parents Mary and Joseph and wondrous in all his ways. The Christmas carol also tells us about his birth and how it took place in a lowly cattle shed and how a manger was used for his bed; about his childhood as a frail and obedient young boy; and about all the other stages of his growing up.

Again, all of these important events took place in David’s city, Bethlehem. This is mainly what makes the said place royal since royalty, the king of all kings, dwelled there. It largely focuses upon the more palatable aspects of the Nativity story.




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