A few years before she passed away, my Grandmother, Marion (Davy) Foreman gathered by Aunt and I at the piano on Boxing Day to teach us this song. She said it was her mother's favourite (Ida Mae Wilton Davy). I had never heard it before and the sheet music she used was old and frayed at the edges. My Aunt remembered hearing it ages ago. I have since heard it sung at a couple church services, but it isn't one of the more well known Christmas carols. I've included a link with this one so you can hear it.
The Holy City is a religious ballad dating from 1892, with music by Michael Maybrick writing under the alias Stephen Adams, with lyrics by Frederic Weatherly.
The song is mentioned in James Joyce's Ulysses, published 1918-1920. It gained renewed popularity when it was sung by Jeanette MacDonald in the 1936 hit film San Francisco.
- Angela Bobier