Once in Royal David’s City

download mp3 | more Christmas music

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 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.


Words by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)
Music by Henry John Gauntlett (1805-1876)
Arranged by Alan Sanderson

Alan Sanderson: guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals, recording, mixing, mastering
Marisa Sanderson: clarinet, vocals
Johann: vocals, recording, second verse arrangement
Sanderson Family: vocals

Alan’s Production Notes

I learned to love this song during my first Christmas in England. I bought a cassette tape of a boy’s choir singing Christmas songs, and this tune was on it. Not only is the music beautiful, but the lyrics are simply divine. The best Christmas songs are the ones that bear pure testimony of the Savior.

This recording features the guitar I first learned to play on — a 3/4 sized acoustic with nylon strings. It has a really dark sound because of the low string tension, which made it great for playing grunge rock power chords when I was a teenager. I once loaned it to my sister-in-law when she was taking a guitar class, and almost forgot about it. When I thought about it one day we looked around and couldn’t find it anywhere. We figured it was gone forever.

Then two Christmases ago my mother-in-law found it while cleaning her garage and brought it to me. What a reunion! I strummed its strings and that brooding tone just came rumbling out of its sound hole. I felt like a pimply teenager again.

Today this old guitar is leaning against the wall beside my bed. It is my go-to instrument for playing music around the house, and I often use it while working on lyrics. After 30+ years of playing this guitar I figured that it was time to finally use it on a serious recording.

Production Stats

You can find more of our Christmas recordings here:

Alan Sanderson

writing: https://medicineandfaith.com music: https://sanderson.band

4 thoughts on “Once in Royal David’s City

  1. Thank you for this beautiful song. I remember it well from my mission in London, England as well. I used to insert “Welwyn Garden City” for Royal David’s City. It was a town in our mission.


  2. This is a great recording! I love these Christmas gifts from your family every year. It was fun to hear Johann’s new voice on the second verse, and the banjo is well-played and a really nice touch. I love how you boosted the volume of the littles on the third verse so they still stand out–such sweet voices. Beautiful!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s