Posted by Mindy

Away in a manger,

No crib for His 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

 

I love Thee, Lord Jesus

Look down from the sky

And stay by my cradle,

‘Til morning is nigh.

Why wait until Advent/Christmas time to introduce Christmas carols to your children?  If you start now, then you’ll be prepared to be able to enjoy the music all the more.  Here is a link to a lovely beginner arrangement of Away in a Manger for you to sing to and for you to preview, as I will be using this with my students this fall.  Thank you, Kim Snow, of www.PraiseNotes.com!

The story behind the carol:

“Away in a manger,” as well as “Jesus Loves Me,” are two of the first songs which many children learn in Sunday School.  With such an easy melody, and one which even early beginning piano students can pick up, it’s no surprise that children can sing or play it as beginning readers.

For all its familiarity it’s origin is greatly confused.  Most folks mistakenly hold that the lyrics were written by Martin Luther, and perhaps even sung by Luther to his own children.  What a lovely picture!  On the other hand, the first two verses were actually written by an American, rather than by a German, and they are from an anonymous source.  The words were actually created by someone in the mid-1800’s who set it to music, taught it to someone else, and it passed along by oral tradition.  The song had been passed along for years before catching the attention of a Lutheran songbook editor who matched it to a melody and published it in 1887.

We today still don’t know how the association was created  such that the melody to “Away in a Manger” received the name “Luther’s Cradle Hymn.”  American hymn writer James M. Murray not only titled the tune but trumpted the connection between Luther and the melody.  We do not know the source of this Lutheran hymn editor’s information, but it certainly has been laid out as if Gospel truth.  It is strongly possible, though, that Murray did take this German melody and set it up in four part harmony.  If you would like to learn more of the details to this story, check out Ace Collins’ book “Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas” published by Zondervan.