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