December 9. “Away in a Manger” – American (1885)
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.
Children enjoy Christmas more than any other time of year, and adults share that special joy. “Away in a Manger” is usually considered a children’s carol, yet its beauty and power is loved equally by people of all ages. All of us can pray, “I love you, Lord Jesus! Stay close to me tonight.”
For many years this hymn was attributed to Martin Luther. The song first appeared in a Lutheran hymnal in the mid-1800s. The next publisher to pick it up called it “Luther’s Cradle Hymn,” assuming that since it was anonymous and in a Lutheran hymnal, it must be Luther’s.
But regardless of its author, the beauty of this carol is the beauty of Christmas. It is simple. Christmas is not the gold or glitter, the wrappings or trappings. It is the story of God humbling Himself to become a baby, born in crude circumstances to a young woman in ancient Palestine. Sing this carol softly. It is what Christmas is all about.