A Childhood Pattern

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One of my many favorite things about Christmas is singing one of my favorite Christmas carols. I have shared the words with you longtime readers before, but it has been almost two years. I hope you won’t mind a reminder so I can have the pleasure of sharing it again and so newer readers who have never heard this song can read the beautiful words.

I don’t remember the first time I ever heard it but now I don’t let a Christmas go by without singing it. I’m sorry I didn’t know it as a child or when my children were young. Rest assured that I do not intend to let my grandchildren’s childhoods go by without a sweet dose of it again and again. It’s not one they are likely to hear from many other sources.

I like how it takes children on a journey through the life of Jesus in the stable, in His mother’s arms, and in the home where He grew up, and then fills their imaginations with the someday when He will gather them to Him.

Mother and Child Ornament

Once in Royal David’s City

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, 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;
When like stars His children rise,
Singing praises in the skies.

Cecil Alexander wrote this hymn, and until last night, I always thought Cecil was a man. Silly me. My mother had an aunt Cecil and this Cecil was also a lady. Cecil Alexander wrote 400 songs, many of them for children. Her husband was an Anglican official in Ireland. She and her sister founded a school for the deaf.

Our children can’t be perfect like Jesus was, but I do like them to be able to imagine what His childhood was like and to know that He knows and cares about every little thing (and big thing) that they know and care about.

And He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and He continued in subjection to them;
and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Luke 2:51-52

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  1. I’m familiar with this hymn as it’s in our hymnal (minus the third verse). 🙂 I can’t imagine what it would be like to parent a perfect child.

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