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 was this late-19th-century American hymn 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 this description: “Composed by Martin Luther for his children, and still sung by German mothers to their little ones.” While this sounds lovely, research has disproven 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 to 1934, long after Luther’s time. Another clue to the song’s origin is that the German lyrics of the song are quite clumsy.

This well-loved Christmas hymn has not 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” is sung in the “Mueller” melody on our Kids Channel.

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  • 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!

  • Stephanie Clayburn

    I love all things Christmas and this song is so special! Thank you for sharing.

  • Marcelle Beldon

    We sing this song to the Cradle melody here in South Africa, but I learnt it to the Mueller melody at church. A beautiful song that sounds so sweet when sung by little ones!

  • Emily

    do you have piano sheet music for these Christmas songs?

    • Customer Support

      Thank you for your interest, Emily! We’re so glad you love the songs! Unfortunately, we do not have sheet music to share at this time.