Our Savior Holy

New musical setting (SATB carol) by Fen Frehner of “Once in Royal David’s City”

Text by Cecil Frances Alexander, Chorus by Fen Frehner


When I’ve heard or sung “Once in Royal David’s City” in the past, the title and the bouncy flavor of the music had hidden the beautiful lyrics from me.  After reading the text without the music, I was surprised to have a totally different picture in my head.  With new respect for the lyrics, I wrote this new music.  I aimed for a setting that would be more like a story, added lyrics and music for a chorus, and I selected "Our Savior Holy" as the new title because I wanted that to be the center of focus of the song rather than a city, and as an interesting coincidence, these words are found precisely in the center of the song and recording.

I may write an arrangement that includes accompaniment, but I like this as-is as a simple carol / hymn.  In this format, there aren't really dynamics shown, but there are numerous opportunities for dynamic treatment of the music.

The "Three Christmas Carols" choir booklet (6.875"x10.5") which includes this song may be purchased above by selecting the desired quantity, clicking the "Add to Cart" button, and following the checkout process.  A low-resolution version of the sheet music may be downloaded below.

If you would like to purchase the audio recording (vocals by Matthew Curtis) used in the sheet-music video, please contact me.  Excellent rehearsal tracks are available above.


1. Once in royal David’s cityStood a lowly cattle shed,Where a mother laid her babyIn a manger for his bed:Mary was that mother mild,Jesus Christ her little child.
ChorusAlleluia, Alleluia, sing praises to His name.Alleluia, Alleluia, sing praises to His name!
2. 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.
3. And our eyes at last shall see him,Through his own redeeming love;For that child so dear and gentleIs our Lord in heav’n above,And he leads his children onTo the place where he is gone.
Text: Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818–1895
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