Christmas songs #17: Away in a manger

Despite what some songbooks say, this song was not written by Martin Luther. It’s from the 1800’s in America, and nobody knows who wrote it. I would be glad to defend it as being a Biblical meditation on Christmas, but there’s not much in it that comes from the actual Bible Christmas story. We don’t even know whether cattle were anywhere nearby when Jesus was laid in the manger. But it makes a better Christmas card picture if there are lots of animals around!

Where the song really succeeds Biblically is that it teaches us all to be children in order to know Jesus Christ. Jesus rebuked his disciples when they tried to shoo the children away. And he called all believers his “little ones.” And he said, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18.3). So every Christian should be willing to sing the third verse, any time of the year, and at any age!

(To hear the song, click the link or paste into your browser. Finally, where it says “Don’t have a Rhapsody account?”, push “Play Now.”)

Lyrics (
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are 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.

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