“Away in a Manger”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1885 ("Little Children's Book: for Schools and Families")
Keywords: religious Jesus animal Christmas

Description

"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head." The baby never complains even amid the noise of the cattle. The singer asks that Jesus protect him/her and all children

Notes

Although often called "Luther's Cradle Hymn," it is known that this is not by Martin Luther, and apparently is a purely American creation. Johnson, who usually gives some sort of background even if inaccurate, has nothing whatsoever to say about the piece. Fuld gives such details as are known.

Several tunes are in use; the usual American form is a relative of Jonathan Edwards Spilman's "Flow Gently Sweet Afton."

Ian Bradley, in _The Penguin Book of Carols_, admits that this is "one of the most unScriptural" of popular carols (though he follows this up with a fierce defence of its place in the tradition). This is nothing less than the truth; the only part with Biblical authority is the manger (Luke 2:7, 12, 16); there is no proof there were animals in the vicinity. - RBW

Cross references

References

  1. Silber-FSWB, p. 373, "Away In A Manger" (1 text)
  2. Fuld-WFM, pp. 120-121+, "Away in a Manger"
  3. DT, AWAYMNGR*
  4. ADDITIONAL: Charles Johnson, One Hundred and One Famous Hymns (Hallberg, 1982), p. 111, "Away In A Manger" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Ian Bradley, _The Penguin Book of Carols_ (1999), #10, "Away In a Manger" (1 text)
  6. BI, FSWB373B