Most current publications of Away in a Manger indicate that the writer of the first two stanzas is unknown. Others name Martin Luther as the author. The song was first published in an 1885 Lutheran Sunday School book compiled by James R. Murray (1841-1905), who gave the song a subtitle of Luther's Cradle Hymn. The third verse was written by John T. McFarland in 1904.
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The beloved children's Christmas Carol is generally sung to one of two melodies. In the U.S. the most popular tune is Mueller, while the United Kingdom prefers the melody of Cradle Song.
Whatever the refrain, whichever of the variations (see below), and/or whomever is the true composer, there can be no doubt that this sweet song is a favorite of children and adults alike.
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Away in a Manger
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright 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 'til 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 take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.
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There have been several variations of the song, including one or more of the following:
- The first line of the 1st verse - exchange 'no crib for a bed' for 'no room for his head'
- The third line of the 1st verse - omit the word 'bright' or exchange 'bright' for 'night'
- The first line of the 2nd verse - exchange 'the baby awakes' for 'the Babe awakes' or add the word 'poor' and remove the ('The poor baby wakes')
- The last line of the 2nd verse - exchange 'stay by my cradle 'til' for either 'stay by my bed until' or 'stay by my bedside 'til'
- The last line of the 3rd verse - exchange 'And take us to Heaven' for either 'And fit us for Heaven' or 'And throw us to Heaven'
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“She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7 NIV)
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