AWAY IN A MANGER
Source unknown (stanzas 1, 2), John Thomas McFarland, 1851–1913 (stanza 3)
And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)
The shepherds had an angel
Christ watches me, His little lamb,
The wise men had a star
Cares for me day and night,
But what have I, a little child,
That I may be His own in heaven;
To guide me home from far,
So angels clad in white
Where glad stars sing together
Shall sing their “Glory, glory,”
And singing angels are?
For my sake in the height.
No Christmas song is more loved than this tender children’s carol. With its simply worded expression of love for the Lord Jesus and trust in His faithful care, the hymn appeals to young and old alike. It is usually one of the first Christmas songs learned in early childhood; yet its pleasing melody and gentle message preserve it in our affections all through life.
For some time “Away in the Manger” was titled “Luther’s Cradle Hymn.” It was thought to have been written by Martin Luther for his own children and then passed on by German mothers. Modern research discounts this claim, however. Stanzas one and two first appeared in the Little Children’s Book, published in Philadelphia in 1885. The third verse was written by a Methodist minister, Dr. John T. McFarland, in the early 1900’s when an additional stanza for this carol was desired for use at a church children’s day program.
How important it is that we take time to help our children see beyond the glitter of the Christmas season and teach them the true meaning of Christ’s birth. The most thrilling story ever known to man began in Bethlehem at Christmas.
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 an 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.
For Today: Matthew 8:20; Mark 10:13–16; Luke 2:12, 16
Use this season to enjoy times of family worship. Include the reading of the Christmas story—Luke 2:1–20 (perhaps from different versions), share personal insights from the story, dramatize the various events, sing and play the carols, pray together, and discuss how the family could share their joy with others.