On the Eighth Day

   I remember the time when Daddy introduced all of us to the English Christmas carol, "Once in Royal David's City."  He showed us a youtube video of the king's college choir singers at the start of the famous Christmas Eve, "Nine Lessons and Carols" which they have held each year since 1919. A lone boy chorister sings the first verse, then the rest of the choir joins on the second, the third verse is sung while the choir walks down the isle to their places, and the audience and organ come in on the fourth stanza. I remember getting lost in the beauty of the singing in that marvelous cathedral with all those majestic harmonies blending as one magnificent voice. It filled the whole place with grandeur; especially with the organ, so out of place in a modern building but seeming to be part of the cathedral studs. It raised my soul to the roof and for days I went around singing "Once in Royal David's City," not necessarily because I liked the song, but because I could still hear the beautiful sound of King's College Choir. That was my first real introduction to choir music, I hadn't heard anything like it before, and since that time, "King's" is still one of my favorite choirs.

     Once in Royal David's City, though a child's song and correspondingly simplistic, is not as theologically void as it may at first seem. To be sure, Cecil Francis Humphreys Alexander wrote the poem for her collection of "Hymns For Little Children," which she published in 1848, however, the hymn is like a musing about Jesus' birth and childhood, ending with the joyful thought that someday with his own eyes he will see Jesus, through His own redeeming blood.

    When you remember the Christmas story, how many of us eagerly look forward to when we will see that babe in the manger with our own eyes? No longer a babe, but truly revealed as Lord of heaven and earth? The irony is, that even as a baby, he was still God. The creator of heaven and earth came down as a helpless infant and lay in a feeding trough? After hearing it as many times as most of you probably has, the complete wonder of it all can grow dim, but contemplate it again with me as you listen to this beautiful hymn sung to the tune, "Irby" by Henry John Gauntlett.


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

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

For He is our child-hood's pattern,
Day by day like us He grew,
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew,
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in 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;
When like stars
His children crowned,
All in white shall be around.

 Someday we will see Him, friends. Someday we will behold, with our very eyes, the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us.

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