Carol Origins: Away in a Manger

Our regular Alphabet Wall craft post has been postponed for the Carol Origins series this week. But in line with our usual Friday focus on activities for kids, today’s write-up is about a much-loved children’s carol “Away in a Manger”.

The first two verses of “Away In A Manger” are anonymous. They first appeared in Little Children’s Book for Schools and Families, by J. C. File (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, 1885).

In Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses, for use in the kindergarten, school and home, by James R. Murray, (Cincinnati, The John Church Co., 1887), “Away in a Manger” is entitled “Luthers’ Cradle Hymn (Composed by Martin Luther for his children and still sung by German mothers to their little ones).” However Luther is not listed as the composer, instead are the initials J.R.M. The hymn in this publication is set to the tune we know as MUELLER.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head;
The stars in the bright sky look down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle were lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes;
I love Thee Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
Close by me, forever and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.

Information excerpted from Centre for Church Music


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