Once in Royal David’s City (Single Use)

Once in Royal David’s City (Single Use)


A one-of-a-kind piano arrangement of a nativity poem.

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Most Sundays, fellow musician and worship director and I “jam” on a hymn tune during communion. He’s on guitar (or electric guitar) and singing while I’m at the piano. Eventually our meditative improvisation is followed by the congregation singing a of couple verses.

Once he chooses a tune, he or I come up with a chord chart featuring anything but the standard chord progression. We both have a passion for colorful harmonies! When he recently suggested “Once in Royal David’s City,” I accepted the challenge and fell into this chord progression sprinkled with a bluesy interlude which lends itself well to improvisation.

It got me thinking what it must have been like for Joseph pulling a donkey transporting his very pregnant and most likely uncomfortable wife away from home to “David’s city.” Could the obedient and hopeful couple carrying the light of the world or “royal cargo” have felt a little blue? Thus the subtitle “The Royal Blues.”

It’s my hope that you, like me, treasure the words and tune of “Once in Royal David’s City” and in addition, accept the invitation to step out and enjoy the freedom of playing beyond the page. The score indicates a repeat between measures 74-77. This is your window to ad lib and play the blues as many times as you wish!

In the video below you’ll hear what I do with these measures. Feel free to do less or more.


This is a single-use license which means it is for use by you or ONE of your students.

Please do not share this with more than one person in or outside of your studio.

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If you have any questions, please contact me at leilaviss88@gmail.com