Did you know that ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ was written by the same woman, Mrs Cecil Alexander, who wrote the words to the hymn ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ in 1848?
For 95 years, this carol has traditionally been the first carol sung in the annual ‘Carol’s from King’s’ service at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge.
‘Royal David’s City’ is Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. The carol focuses on the humble and ‘lowly’ origins of Jesus Christ: born in a ‘cattle shed’ or stable, but destined to become the Saviour of all mankind. Mrs Alexander draws a link between Jesus’ human incarnation and humans everywhere: ‘He was little, weak and helpless, / Tears and smiles like us He knew’. The Jesus of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ is someone to identify with because he is like us, and he understands human suffering and human struggles.