Away in a Manger’s first two verses were originally published in a Sunday School booklet in 1885. The original author of those verses is unknown, however, the third verse is attributed to John Thomas McFarland who added on the third verse in 1904. There is some debate as to whether or not he actually wrote the lyrics as they have been found in print as early as 1892.
Despite a mysterious origin, with even some speculation that Martin Luther was the original author of this popular Christmas Carol – this song continues to be a beautiful and melodic holiday favorite. Specifically touching when sung by children, it is a popular song to see preformed in school Christmas concerts.
This Christmas Carol is usually sung to one of two melodies. In North America the most popular melody is Mueller, while Europe prefers the tune of Cradle Song. Whichever melody you prefer – it is a lovely choice of song to bring out the holiday spirit.
Away In A Manger Lyrics
Words: Unknown, 1885 (verses 1 & 2)
Verse 3: Attributed to John Thomas McFarland, 1887 (1851-1913)
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.
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’