One of the most tender Christmas carols has to be Away In A Manger. The song expresses simple, childlike love for and faith in Jesus. It transports us beyond the glitz and glitter of the Christmas season and reminds us of true reason we celebrate Christmas.
Away In A Manger was once titled Luther’s Cradle Hymn. It was widely thought to have been written by Martin Luther for his own children, but most scholars no longer believe this to be the case. The first two stanzas were published in the Little Children’s Book in 1885. The third was added in the early 1900’s by John T. McFarland, a Methodist minister who needed a third verse for a children’s day program at his church.
The second verse of the song is considered by some as heretical because of the line “but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.” Proponents believe the song is claiming that Jesus was fully God but not fully man. People are certainly entitled to their opinion, but I feel like they just need to get over it. The song doesn’t claim that Baby Jesus never cried, only that the writer wasn’t envisioning Him crying for that moment in time as he (or she) pictured the scene of the nativity.
What’s more important is the love, affection, and childlike faith that is expressed in the song. In 2002, the simple lyrics and message of Away In A Manger inspired me to write two more stanzas. You can find them at the bottom of the song below:
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.
No longer a baby, He grew to a man, sent to us from Heaven to fulfill God’s plan;
He died on a cross to atone for our sin, and rose from the dead to be alive again.
This precious Lord Jesus is all that we need if we make Him our Savior and our Lord indeed;
O please, wondrous Jesus, be with us today, fill us with Your spirit, we now humbly pray.
God bless you all (even if you don’t like Away In A Manger) and Merry Christmas.