14-year-old Malakai Bayoh sings angelic ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ in beautiful Christmas performance

8 December 2023, 12:04

Malakai Bayoh sings angelic solo carol ‘Once in Royal David's City’ | Classic FM

By Kyle Macdonald

The boy treble, who starred in the 2023 Britain’s Got Talent finals, gives an unforgettable performance of the classic Christmas carol, in an exclusive for Classic FM.

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It’s one of the most iconic solos for a solo treble, which immediately signals the Christmas season – and there’s none more suited to sing it in 2023 than the young singer of the moment, Malakai Bayoh.

For this intimate performance of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, Malakai is joined by harpist Cecily Beer. Together they perform in a 300-year-old London church, St Mary le Strand, in London’s historic Westminster.

For almost 100 years, the Choir of King’s College Cambridge has used ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ as the opening carol for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, with a single treble taking on the first verse as a solo.

In this performance, Malakai shows off his soaring voice which over the last 12 months has touched millions, with viral social media videos and performances that propelled him to the finals of Britain’s Got Talent. Watch him above.

Malakai Bayoh to Aled Jones: ‘I’m a bit shocked’ by Britain’s Got Talent stardom

‘Once in Royal David’s City’ tells the story of the nativity, setting out the story of the first Christmas, with baby Jesus, his adoring mother, and the famous manger scene with an oxen or two for good measure.

The carol’s evocative words were written by Irish poet Cecil Frances Alexander in 1848 and set to music by English organist Henry John Gauntlett.

Read more: What are the lyrics to ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and what is its history?

Malakai Bayoh sings a stunning ‘O Holy Night’ duet with Aled Jones | Classic FM

At Christmas last year, Malakai sang two seasonal duets, ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Walking in the Air’ with Welsh singer and Classic FM presenter Aled Jones. Their performances went viral, amassing 30 million views and setting up international fame and an incredible 12 months for the young treble.

A Royal Albert Hall solo debut followed, with performances of Mozart and Handel arias at an opera-themed Classic FM Live. Then came his Britain’s Got Talent run. It began with the 14-year-old singing the beautiful ‘Pie Jesu’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem, and took him right to the finals of the show.

His debut album Golden followed shortly afterwards. Later in the summer, Malakai was back with Classic FM to record the much-loved hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, also with today’s harpist Cecily Beer.

And what better way to cap an extraordinary year, than by returning to a Christmas carol with those shimmering high notes that have now been heard all around the world.