Most likely the first Christmas carol I ever learned was “Away In A Manger.” It’s a favorite of many, although it was originally a children’s hymn.
Did you know there was a misconception that the lyrics of “Away in a Manger” were actually written by Martin Luther? We actually don’t know who authored the song but we do know that the music was composed by William J. Kirkpatrick in 1895.
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
I don’t remember my Mom teaching me that song. I actually don’t remember my Mom teaching me how to sing at all, but I’ve always known that song. It may well have been the first lullaby that my mom sang to me as she rocked me to sleep.
Dr. Richard Dobbins says that the strongest form of teaching is through role modeling. In other words, what we do as parents are more important than what we say. What Mom did every day of my life, which I remember clearly, was to sing no matter what she was doing. Her singing instilled into me the importance of having a song in your heart.
We had no radios, record players or television, which meant we entertained ourselves. Because Mom role modeled singing, at Christmas time, caroling is what we did. To this day I love Christmas carols and start playing Christmas music the first day of December each year.
Away in a manger paints a sweet picture of the birth of baby Jesus. When our grandson Ryan was three years old he became intrigued with manger scenes. Anytime he saw a manger scene, in a book, on TV, on an ornament, framed picture on a wall or any type of manger scene, he would stop and gaze at the manger.
I had one displayed in our home and he would stand and stare at it for long periods and at times I would hear him say, “there’s that baby again.”
I would tell him the Christmas story and sing “Away In a Manger” just like I learned it as a child. Although I never quite understood his intrigue with the manger scene, I believe the Christmas story stole his heart as a child.
I can’t imagine Christmas without singing this song. Listen to it, learn it and allow the words to transport you back in time to the manger scene in Bethlehem when unto us a child was born.