One of the things I miss the most about my dad is hearing his voice. Not only his speaking voice, but also his singing voice. He was a great singer, and he loved to sing all kinds of songs – from silly songs to old hymns to “Mr. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkle to new worship songs – all with his strong, confident voice.
This being my first Christmas without my dad, I’m grateful for the memories of hearing him belt out Advent and Christmas songs. My brothers and I liked to tease him for royally messing up a song called “Happy Birthday Dear Jesus” during one of his children’s sermons one Christmas Eve, but at least he tried, and at least he was comfortable singing out loud in church, which is actually pretty difficult for a lot of men.
I’m also grateful that a year ago today, he sent me this little clip from his church (Holy Trinity Church in McLean, Virginia) singing the carol “Once in Royal David’s City”. The verse they’re singing has the lyrics:
“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.”
You can hear my dad’s wonderful voice join in on that last line of the verse:
“And he leads his children on…” I can’t sing that line now without choking up.
This is a hard Christmas for me and my family, being the first Christmas since dad died in April. But because of Jesus, and because of his redeeming love, and because my dad had trusted in that redeeming love of Jesus, he is now with his Lord in heaven above.
And so this carol is now my favorite of them all. Because I can hear my dad’s voice, belting out with the saints and angels, the praises of the One who came to David’s royal city so long ago, to break the curse of sin and death, and to lead His children on to the place where he is now gone.
A few years ago I re-arranged this carol, and wrote a new verse (verse 4), and am happy to share it with you below. Special thanks to my good friend Joshua Spacht for his genius brass and strings orchestration, which is also available for free below.
In these last few days leading up to Christmas, may we all be amazed again by the good news of the Gospel, that Jesus came to save sinners, that we may have eternal life with him. I’ll be belting out that good news this Christmas, and I know my dad is joining in. I can’t wait to hear his voice again soon.
Once in Royal David’s City
8 thoughts on “And He Leads His Children On…”
Hi Jamie, thanks for sharing your memory of your Father. My Mother passed away about a week and a half ago. She led the music at our church for about 38 years. This is the church that I’m now leading worship at after she became physically unable to do it. I have so many memories of her playing the piano at church and at home. She also sang great harmony on the Doxology which will forever remind me of her and will always have a hole in it where her voice should be filling in. Thanks for sharing and also for bringing up such fond memories of my Mom.
Hi Jamie… I was looking forward to hearing your version of the carol, but the YouTube video says it isn’t available. I’m from South Africa – could it be that it’s not available internationally?
Thinking of you all as you face this first Christmas, with both grief and a more tangible sense of heaven. Thank you for sharing this – I’m always amazed at the sweet mercies the Lord gives to comfort those of us who are here on earth missing our loved ones who are home with him. He is so gentle and kind with us. I’m grateful you have this special gift from him. Hugs and love to you all.
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Thanks so much for sharing that. I have tears in my eyes. I’ve been reading your blog since one of my team members sent me your post about Thinking In Thirds. So I remember you posting of your father’s passing. I’ll keep your family in my prayers. I always appreciate your insight. What a wonderful arrangement of Once In Royal David’s City. I’ve got to be honest, it was never a favorite of mine. I think you just changed my mind.
Thank you for this post Jamie. I am the mother of a child who doesn’t have an audible voice, but communicates with us through a spelling board (he blogs at: http://www.eyecantalk.net). He can however still get excited and shout during singing at church. He knows his life here is limited and can’t wait to go to Jesus’ garden – this week I was in church with him and we were singing Away in a Manger – Jonathan went wild with excitement at the last verse. It is a ‘thin’ time of year – the gap between heaven and us seems less, whichever side of the line we are on…
Thank you for this Christmas gift.
Hi Jamie, thanks for this blog. The first youtube link didn’t work, but this one did https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls-7sW0QZzc
I have a hard time during the holidays missing family which aren’t here anymore, and sometimes harder with the ones that are still here. I try to focus on Jesus’ birthday and that it.. versus the shopping and getting and food of the holidays. 😦
This is a great arrangement. Love your new verse as well. Blessings, Susan