Away in a Manger: The Lyrics, the Story and the Meaning
The Christmas song "Away in a Manger" is a beautiful and poignant reminder of the humble beginnings of Jesus Christ. The lyrics are simple, yet profound, and the melody is both sweet and stirring. But who wrote the lyrics to this Christmas classic, and when was it composed?
Who wrote the lyrics to Away in a Manger?
There is some debate over who actually wrote the lyrics to "Away in a Manger." The first published version of the lyrics appeared in 1885, in a Christmas book called Christmas Carols New and Old, edited by Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer. The lyrics were attributed to "James Murray," but it's not clear if this was the author's real name or a pseudonym.
It's possible that the lyrics were actually written by Martin Luther, the 16th-century German reformer who is credited with composing the melody for Away in a Manger. Luther wrote many hymns and songs, including several Christmas carols. However, there is no definitive proof that he wrote the lyrics to Away in a Manger.
Is there a story behind the lyrics?
While the Christmas story is well-known, the lyrics to "Away in a Manger" tell a more specific and personal story. The words express both the joy and the humility of the Christmas story, and they remind us that Jesus was born into a life of simplicity. The lyrics also emphasize the importance of giving and love, two of the most important themes of Christmas.
When was Away in a Manger composed?
The Christmas carol Away in a Manger was first published in 1885, but it is believed to have been composed much earlier, possibly in the early 1800s. The fact the song is so old it is hard to know exactly who composed the melody to the famous Christmas song. However, historians commonly attribute the melody to the most popular musical setting in the United States is commonly known as "Mueller". The melody was first published, under the title "Luther's Cradle Hymn", by James R. Murray in his collection Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses (1887).
Did you know the melody was different around the world?
According to Wikipedia, the popular melody through the United Kingdom and Europe is known as "Cradle Song". The melody, written by the American composer William J. Kirkpatrick, was first published as part of the collection Around the World with Christmas (1895), a "Christmas Exercise" for youth groups featuring material representing various countries: "Away in a Manger" was included, under the title "Luther's Cradle Hymn", as a representative of "The German Fatherland".
Kirkpatrick's melody was later published in numerous hymn-books, and was the setting that, in Hill's words, "first carried the words beyond the confines of the United States", being included in collections such as Carey Bonner's Sunday School Hymnary (1905). It remains the most popular musical setting of "Away in a Manger" outside the United States.
What are the lyrics to 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 take us to heaven to live with Thee there
Christmas is a special time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The words to "Away in a Manger" express the joy and humility of the Christmas story, and remind us of the importance of giving and love. So this Christmas, take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday, and remember those who are less fortunate. And if you don't already know the lyrics to "Away in a Manger," take some time to learn them! You might just find that they become your new favorite Christmas carol.
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