86

Away in a Manger

Full Text

1 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.

2 The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love you, Lord Jesus: look down from the sky
and stay by my side until morning is nigh.

3 Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay
close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care;
prepare us for heaven to live with you there.

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Scripture References

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Away in a Manger

Assurance

She will give birth to a son,
and you are to give him the name Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.
—Matthew 1:21, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Why is he called God’s “only begotten Son”
when we also are God’s children?
Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God.
We, however, are adopted children of God—
adopted by grace through Christ.
—Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 33
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

The following is a guide for extemporaneous prayers. The pattern provides a suggested text
for the opening and closing of each part of the prayer and calls for extemporaneous prayers of
thanksgiving, petition, and intercession.
Incarnate God,
with the angels we sing and glorify your name,
thankful for all that you have given us:
for your presence in the world . . .
for our nation . . .
for our community and its leaders . . .
for the witness of your church celebrating around the world . . .
But today we are especially grateful for the gift of your Son, who gave up his heavenly
home for a manger and a cross so that we might experience redemption, a gift
that neither spoils nor fades.
With the angels we also desire peace on earth, a peace that is broader and deeper
than the end of war. We pray for the restoration of this world, for the growth of
your kingdom, for reconciliation, healing, and renewal. We bring before you our
prayers for
the nations of the world, especially . . .
our nation and those in authority . . .
our community and those who govern it . . .
the church universal, its mission, and those who minister . . .
the local congregation and its ministry, especially . . .
those with particular needs on this holy day . . .
Make your incarnate presence known in each situation, and may we as your servants
be vessels of your peace.
We pray this in the name of the one who became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus
Christ, our Lord. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
86

Away in a Manger

Tune Information

Name
AWAY IN A MANGER
Key
F Major or modal
Meter
11.11.11.11

Recordings

86

Away in a Manger

Hymn Story/Background

Stanzas 1 and 2 of this anonymous children's hymn were first published in the Lutheran compilation Little Children's Book for Schools and Families (Philadelphia, 1885). Charles H. Gabriel published the text with an additional third stanza, also anonymously written in his Vineyard Songs (1892).
 
Though obviously a children's hymn, "Away in a Manger" is a charming favorite of many people, regardless of age. When people object to the "no crying" phrase in stanza 2, seeing it as a denial of Christ's humanity, they've really missed the childlike nature of this hymn. "Away in a Manger" has a lullaby character in stanzas 1 and 2; stanza 3 is an evening bedtime prayer.
 
With the original two-stanza text, AWAY IN A MANGER was first published in James R. Murray's Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses (1887) and initialed “J. R. M.” Murray compiled the songbook and is now thought to be the tune's composer. However, Murray's hymnbook erroneously de­scribed this song as: "Luther's Cradle Hymn. Composed by Martin Luther for his children, and still sung by German mothers to their little ones." As a result, the hymn was wrongly attributed to Luther for many years.
 
AWAY IN A MANGER is a simple tune in ABAC form, probably best performed with light organ accompaniment and/ or with flute, recorder, guitar, or Orff instruments. "Away in a Manger" is a fine young children's choir anthem; it could be sung by children alone, with adults humming the harmony. The hymn is suitable for two-part, four-part, or unison singing. Try also to sing unaccompanied. Maintain one pulse per bar.
 
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

As a young man taught by such famous music teachers as Lowell Mason, George Root, and William Bradbury, James R. Murray (b. Andover, MA, 1841; d. Cincinnati, OH, 1905) also studied at the Musical Institute in North Reading, Massachusetts. From 1868 until the Chicago fire of 1871 destroyed the company, he edited the Song Messenger for the publishing firm of Root and Cady. He then returned to his birth place, Andover, and taught music in the public schools. From 1881 to 1905 he was an editor for the John Church Company of Cincinnati, an important publisher of church school materials and gospel music, including the monthly Musical Visitor. Murray composed many gospel songs and tunes and compiled a number of church school songbooks that contained his music.
— Bert Polman
General Settings
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