1 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.
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 meek, and lowly
lived on earth our Savior holy.
3 Jesus 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 feels for all our sadness,
and he shares in all our gladness.
4 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 has gone.
5 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;
there his children gather round,
bright like stars, with glory crowned.
There is a sharp contrast in this song from the child who is characterized as a “baby in a manger” and “little child” in stanza 1 and “weak and helpless” in stanza 3, and then in stanzas 4 and 5 is seen as the “Lord in heaven above” and “at God’s right hand on high.” The Apostles’ Creed, as explained in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 14-19, Questions and Answers 35-52 shows the same contrast when “born,” “suffered,” “dead,” and “buried” give way to “ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God” and “will come to judge the living and the dead.”