Once In Royal David’s City: Mastering Christmas Carols on the Piano and Keyboard


See the complete series of Mastering Christmas Carols.

Once In Royal David’s City: An Introduction

Once In Royal David’s City is written and played here in the key of G Major, and has a 4/4 time signature.

Once In Royal David’s City: Main Melody

The melody of Once In Royal David’s City can be broken up into four distinct sections. Sections 1 (bar 1) and 2 (bar 5) have an identical melody line, with sections 3 (bar 9) and 4 (bar 11) being very similar.

Watch out for the change in fingering from bar 2 to 3 and 6 to 7, from the fourth finger to the thumb. Also the run down of notes in bars 4 and 8, where you will put the second finger over the thumb in order to play the F#.

Here’s the complete melody written out:

Once In Royal David's City melody page 1

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And here’s what it sounds like:

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Once In Royal David’s City: Single Note Bass Line

Below is a simple bass line for the carol using just one note at a time.

Although the second line melody repeats the first, the accompaniment is slightly different.

Once In Royal David's City bass line page 1

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And here’s what it sounds like:

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Once In Royal David’s City: Adding Harmony And Fullness With Chords

In the third version of Once In Royal David’s City, I’ve added primarily three-note chords to the left hand.

Most of the chords change only a small amount in position and shape, making it easier to play them. Be aware of the C# in the first chord of bar 6, forming an A major triad.

Once In Royal David's City chords page 1

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And here’s what is sounds like:

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Download MIDI

See the full range of Christmas carol lessons we’ve published.