“Away in a Manger”

Photo Credit:  Tanya Campbell
Photo Credit: Tanya Campbell

As a private music teacher, I am often surprised to find that some of my students are not familiar with many Christmas carols. I remember singing carols with my family when I was a child. “Away in a Manger” is a wonderful carol to teach your little one.

The text of this beloved Christmas carol is believed to have been written in about 1883 in Philadelphia, author unknown, and first published by the American Lutheran Church. For many years, it was falsely attributed to the German Protestant reformer Martin Luther and was sometimes referred to as “Luther’s Cradle Hymn”. It was also inaccurately reported that he sung his own children to sleep with this carol. In any event, it is a beautiful carol that you can use to sing your child to sleep.

Several composers wrote music to the lyrics of this carol. Two commonly sung versions today are: tune name CRADLE SONG written by William J. Kirkpatrick (more common in Canada and UK), and tune name MUELLER by James R. Murray (more common in the United States).

Whichever version you prefer, sing to your child! They will love to hear your voice and will quickly learn to sing along with you.

Away in a Manger

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.

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.

Kindermusik with Tanyahttp://www.freewebs.com/kindermusikwithtanya/
Tanya is a Licensed Kindermusik Educator. She studied music at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She became a licensed Kindermusik educator in 2003. Tanya enjoys teaching piano and voice in her home studio in Orleans as well as Kindermusik at the South Fallingbrook Community Centre. Tanya has participated in award winning choirs which have been featured on CBC radio. She sang at the Canadian Premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Requiem" in the choir under the direction of Dr. Elmer Iseler at Roy Thompson Hall as well as the investiture of Madame Jeanne Sauvé, 23rd Governor General of Canada. She established Kindermusik with Tanya when she recognized the need for a studio that offers high-quality musical experiences for children to enjoy with their families.

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  1. Yes, those are the lyrics I learned so long ago! So many kids today attend public school where carols based on religion are just not part of the holidays. The kids perform in Holiday or Winter concerts now. I love incorporating all kids of all faiths (or no faith at all) but I do miss many of those Christmas songs!

    Away in a Manger is also my little cellists favourite carol to play. Loooong legato bows!

  2. I remember singing this as a kid but not sure if my kids would know the words?? *hides in shame* I find that since the school are not allowed to talk about religion and the birth of Jesus these songs are being lost. I guess it is my turn to step up and teach them!!

  3. I love this carol, I remember singing it in school as a child and also at home. It was also often played in shops and sung in church. A shame we don’t hear it too often these days.


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