Once in Royal David's City

This is a Christmas carol which was written, originally as a children's hymn to promote understanding of the Apostle's Creed.

The words were written in 1848 by Anglo-Irish hymnwriter and poet, Cecil Frances Alexander (1818–1895).

With meter, it is almost always sung to the tune IRBY by Henry J. Gauntlett (1849). This is usually published in the key of F. The simple sheet music available below is set in the lower key of D.



Choir with congregation, organ backing:

Singer with guitar backing:

Instrumental - piano:


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 manger and his cradle was a stall.
With the poor and mean and lowly, lived on earth our saviour holy.

And through all his wondrous childhood he would honour and obey
Love and watch the tender mother, in whose gentle arms he lay.
Christian children should like he, mild, obedient and patient be.

And our eyes at last will see him, through his own redeeming love.
For that child as dear and gentle, is our Lord in heaven above.
And he leads his people on, to the place where he is gone.

For he is our childhoods pattern, day be day like us He grew,
He was little, weak and helpless, tears and smiles like us he knew.
And He feels for our sadness and He shares in our gladness.

ABC Notation

About ABC notation

T:Once in Royal David's City
Z:abc-transcription www.GodSongs.net
C E | "F"F>F F/2E/2 F/2G/2 | "C7"G "F"F F A | "F"c>A "Bb"A/2G/2 F/2E/2 |
w:1~~~Once in roy-al Da_vid's_ cit-y stood a low-ly ca_ttle_
w:2~~~He came down to earth_ from_ hea-ven, who is God and Lord_ of_
w:3~~~For he is our child_hoods_ patt-ern, day by day like us_ He_
w:4~~~And our eyes at last_ will_ see him, through his own re-deem_ing_
"F" F2 C E | F>F "G7"F/2E/2 F/2G/2 | "C7"G F F "Dm"A |
w:1~~~shed. Where a moth-er laid_ her_ ba-by in a
w:2~~~all, and his shel-ter was_ a_ man-ger and his
w:3~~~grew, He was litt-le, weak_ and_ help-less, tears and
w:4~~~love. For that child as dear_ and_ gen-tle, is our
"F" c>A "Bb"A/2G/2 F/2E/2 | "F"F2 "Bb"d d | "F"c>F "C7"B B |
w:1~~~man-ger for_ his_ bed. Ma-ry was that mot-her
w:2~~~crad-le was_ a_ stall. With the poor and mean and
w:3~~~smiles like us_ he_ knew. And He feels_ for our
w:4~~~Lord in hea_ven a-bove. And he leads his peo-ple
"F" A-A "Bb"d d | "F"c>A "Bb"A/2G/2 F/2E/2 | "F"F-F |]
w:1~~~mild,_ Je-sus Christ her lit_tle_ child.
w:2~~~low-ly, lived on earth our sa_viour_ ho-ly.
w:3~~~sad-ness and He shares in our___ glad-ness.
w:4~~~on,_ to the place where he_ is_ gone.

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