The Christmas Carol That Ministered To Me

One of the sweetest Christmas carols, loved by people of all generations, is Away In A Manger. Because the author of the song was anonymous and because it was first published in a German hymnal in the mid-1800’s, people assumed the carol must have been written by Martin Luther. In fact, around the world, people began to call the song Luther’s Cradle Hymn.. However, there is no real proof of Luther’s authorship so the original source of the carol remains anonymous.

The beauty of Away In A Manger lies in its sweetness and simplicity. In a few verses, the carol shares about how God lowered Himself to be born among us in humble, crude circumstances. No wonder the lyrics ask in a sweet prayer like manner: “Be near Me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me I pray.”

I remember praying those words many years ago when my wife and I experienced a significant loss. In the midst of my grief, I was trying to prepare to lead the musical worship for an early December service. One of the songs we were to sing was Away In A Manger. As I sang the words, sadness overwhelmed me and I broke down in tears. I prayed then sat for a long while, contemplating the lyrics of the song. Before the session was over, I had written these two new verses for Away In A Manger:

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

Then 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.

Click here for an interesting arrangement of Away In A Manger by Moira Della Torre.

*Image Courtesy of Kelly Sikemma and Unsplash

New Verses to Away In A Manger

photo- courtesy of Unsplash - photo by Greg Rakozy

A few years ago, as Christmas approached, I was going through some personal struggles and even considered leaving the ministry. However, as I sat to review the worship music for the beginning of the Christmas season, I couldn’t stop singing the lyrics to Away In A Manger, one of my favorite Christmas carols. I love the simplicity of the song and am always impressed by the childlike faith it evokes.

Here are those first three stanzas:

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 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 fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

However, as I sang, I felt the song wasn’t complete, so on that day, I wrote two extra stanzas. Doing so help restore my faith and hope in the Lord. I pray they minister to you as you read them below.

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, then 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,                                                                                                                                                  Oh please, wondrous Jesus, be with us today. Fill us with your spirit, we now humbly pray.

Merry Christmas.

*photo courtesy of Unsplash

New Lyrics For “Away In A Manger”

jesus-birth

A few years ago, I wrote the lyrics for two additional verses for the Christmas Carol “Away In A Manger.” Please feel free to use them if you so desire.

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, Then 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…

Merry Christmas.

 

The Away In A Manger Controversies

nativity

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.