Away in a Manger Lyrics and Song

“Away in a Manger” is one of the most recognized and loved Christmas songs heard each Christmas season. How did this late-19th-century American hymn get mistakenly credited to 16th-century German Martin Luther? Keep reading to find out more about the story behind “Away in a Manger.”

“Away in a Manger” Lyrics

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the heavens looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing; the poor baby wakes,
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.

Click on the image to download a beautifully illustrated PDF of “Away in a Manger.”

Sing along with our illustrated video of this beautiful Christmas hymn found on The Good and the Beautiful Kids YouTube channel.

The Story Behind “Away in a Manger”

The Christmas song “Away in a Manger” beautifully tells the story of Jesus’s birth based on Luke 2:7–14.

American hymn writer James R. Murray first published “Away in a Manger” in the book Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses in 1887. He titled the hymn “Luther’s Cradle Hymn” with the description “Composed by Martin Luther for his children, and still sung by German mothers to their little ones.” While this sounds lovely, research has disproved this origin. 

Twentieth-century hymnologist Fred Gealy notes that the confusion about the origins of “Away in a Manger” was due to its original title, “Luther’s Cradle Hymn.” The 400th anniversary of German theologian Martin Luther was in 1883. It is believed that it was at about this time when “Away in a Manger” was actually written—in America, not Germany. 

Martin Luther did write about singing a song to his son, but none of his manuscripts contain this song. The earliest German lyrics of the song date back only to 1934, long after Luther. Another clue is that the German translation of the song is quite clumsy.

This well-loved Christmas hymn has not just one popular melody, but two! It is most commonly sung in America using the “Mueller” melody published in Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses. In the UK and Ireland, it is sung using the “Cradle Song” melody written by American composer William Kirkpatrick. Which melody do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

Can you pick out which melody we used in our illustrated video of “Away in a Manger” on the Kids Channel? (The answer is below the PDF download below.)

Click on the image to download a beautifully illustrated PDF of “Away in a Manger.”

🎶Answer to our melody question🎶
Away in a Manger” sung in the “Muller” melody on our Kids Channel.

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  • Our Family loves The Good and The Beautiful! We also love being able to play the songs from the quiet time album and the bedtime album. Is there anyway you guys will release these beautiful songs in a format we can buy? YouTube can be a wonderful resource, however the targeted ads (from youtube) can be very distracting and take away from the experience.

    Please let me know if buying these songs and the Christmas songs is an option.

    • Customer Support

      We’re so glad you are enjoying the songs, Sara! Quiet Time Learning Songs and Bedtime Songs are available for purchase as MP3 downloads on our website. The songs from the Christmas series are not available at this time. We appreciate the suggestion to offer them and hope you continue to enjoy the songs!

  • Mallory Jones

    LOVE the Good and the Beautiful Curriculum!!! It’s my favorite so far!!!

  • Lisa Freese

    It’s fun to learn the origins of songs we grew up singing!

  • Patsy Forester

    I love these beautiful stories. I never knew they were here!!❤️. Thank you for sharing your talents with us! It has meant so much to our family!