2020 Advent Devotional – Day 1


Once in Royal David’s City
Words by Cecil Frances Alexander, 1848

“With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior holy.”

Video: Once in David’s Royal City


“Once in Royal David’s City” provides one of the most iconic moments in the Kings’ College service of Nine Lessons and Carols. The congregation sits in candlelit silence. The choir wait at the entrance of the chapel. And then, in the still shadows, one voice rings out. The service begins and through the purity of the soprano solo, we are invited to welcome the peace and presence of God.

The lyrics emphasize the essential humanity of Jesus, born into humble surroundings, dependent on the nurture and care of his mother. While the city of Bethlehem may have a royal history, home of King David, Jesus comes into the world in ordinary and plain surroundings. The carol affirms that this is not just ‘God with us’, present on earth, but ‘God as one of us’, embracing the struggles and pitfalls of human life.

The presence of God then that the carol evokes is that of a God who understands us, who knows the difficulties we face and the problems we encounter and meets us where we are. We do not have to have it all together to encounter Jesus in our lives; rather we are invited to embrace the love of God precisely because we do not have it all together.

Like the child in the manger dependent on his mother, we recognize our utter dependence on the love of God and give thanks that through the life of Jesus our humanity can be a bridge to God and not a barrier.

Understanding God,
You meet me in my life, however abject or dark my circumstances are. You love me through my pain and seek me out when I am lost. You comfort me in my despair, slow down my impatience and reassure my anxiety and fears. Embrace me in my daily life and help me seek your peace in this season of preparation. Prepare my heart to respond to your love for me and for this your world. Amen.


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 Savior holy.

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;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.

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