Today is the 24th and final entry in the Advent-Hymn-of-the-Day Project. Fittingly, we end with the most beloved of "Christmas Eve Hymns," the words of which were written by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895), and taken from her fine "Hymns for Little Children", published in 1848.
The music ("Irby") is by Henry John Gauntlett (1805-1876), who was an English organist and songwriter known in British music circles for his authorship of a large number of hymns and other pieces for the organ. He was intended for a career in law, and he remained a lawyer until he was almost forty years of age, when he abandoned the profession and devoted himself to music.
He was organist at a number of leading London churches, and did much to elevate the musical standards of the day, and the. degree of Mus. Doc. was conferred on him by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
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 mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.
And, through all His wondrous childhood,
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.
For He is our childhood’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 Heav’n 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;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.