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Away in the Manger

Updated on September 13, 2014

Away in the Manger

Traditionally, "Away in the manger" is the first carol that children are taught. The lyrics are simple and for such a simple piece, there is a lot of confusion over the who wrote it. There are three tunes. Which one are you familiar with? All of them are beautiful.

There are two other versions here.The Navajo "Away in a Manger" is very simple and beautiful. There is also the slightly irreverent version by the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets that makes a point that the words are old and not everyone understands them. As a purist, I don't like my tunes or the words messed with but this is funny and can be a learning experience.

Traditional American version of "Away in a Manger" - Who wrote it? What is the right tune?

The words and music for verses 1 and 2 were found in a 1885 book called "Little Children's Book for Schools and Families", by J.C. File of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America.

Some have given credit to Martin Luther for this piece of music although that is incorrect. In another book called "Dainty Songs for Little Lads", published in 1997, the song, like the picture below was titled "Luther's Cradle Hymn".

Verse 3 is by John T. Mc­Far­land (1851-1913) although that is also debated. Whoever wrote the words, Away in a Manger is a beautiful lullaby.

Away in a manger,
No crib for His 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 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 side,
‘Til 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 take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

The Statler Brothers - Away in a Manger combining two of the melodies

Another melody

Celtic Woman - European version of Away in the Manger

Tune sung by Celtic Woman

Nativity Scene

Fontanini by Roman Figure Centennial Nativity Set with Italian set 7-Piece 5-Inch Each
Fontanini by Roman Figure Centennial Nativity Set with Italian set 7-Piece 5-Inch Each

Share your faith. Display the reason for the season with a traditional creche (nativity or manger scene) .


Nothing is sweeter than hearing children sing this song.

Away in a Manger is a children's song. What could be more appropriate that it being sung by a child.

Nativity Scenes for Children

Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Christmas Nativity Set With 4-Piece Stable and 11 Wooden Figures
Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Christmas Nativity Set With 4-Piece Stable and 11 Wooden Figures

Children love the story of Baby Jesus in the stable but parents may not appreciate them moving the Nativity Scene figures. Give them their own set to play with and arrange as they choose. Ask them to tell you the story. You will learn more form them than you expect.


Away in a Manger, Navajo Version - Lovely version by Terry Teller. No musical accompaniment, just the words and the song.

Away in a Manger by the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets - Do your kids know what the words mean?

On my "Deck The Halls" page, I explain what the words to the first verse mean. The language is not contemporary and children will sing the words without any understanding of the meaning. This video is slightly irreverent but very funny and lends itself to my point that we need to make sure the children understand what they are singing.

Away in a Manger - Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

Reader Feedback

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    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 

      6 years ago

      Away in a Manger is one of my all time Christmas tunes. Thanks for the varied renditions.

    • LewesDE profile image


      7 years ago

      This is an awesome lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This has long been my favorite Christams Hymn. There's so much meaning in it. Great lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A forever favoite!

    • seashell2 profile image


      7 years ago

      I learned both versions of this song. Both are great, just heard some children perform at a Christmas concert tonight! :-)

    • Glenn619 profile image


      7 years ago

      brings back memories, great lens

    • Glenn619 profile image


      7 years ago

      brings back memories, great lens

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A wonderful Christmas tradition - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • hotbrain profile image


      8 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      An excellent lens. Squidoo angel blessed :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      I love this song! I will enjoy which ever version is presented. Fabulous lens with a lot of information I did not previously know.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      This is lovely. I enjoyed listening to the music videos.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      This is lovely. I enjoyed listening to the music videos.

    • Ann Hinds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Hinds 

      8 years ago from So Cal

      @GonnaFly: I noticed that it was different too but have not had time to find the correct one to replace it.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      8 years ago from Scotland

      My mum taught me to play this on the piano and I have taught my daughter too! thankyou for the memories!

    • GonnaFly profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Fabulous lens! I've added a link to this page from my top 10 Christmas songs lens. Just noticed though that the sheet music you have displayed for the European melody is a different tune again (different from the one sung by Celtic Woman). A third tune!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      The children in our church sang this Sunday for the Cantata and they were wonderful. I do love to hear Away In The Manger sung by children.

    • javr profile image


      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love the child singing it. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 

      8 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      This is still one of my favorite Christmas songs! I miss Bing Crosby's life shows this time of year!

    • Laura45 LM profile image

      Laura45 LM 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for the history and several different versions of one of the most popular Christmas carols, and one of my favorites!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      oh my gosh; this is an exceptional page! It's true and I'd never thought about it. Away in a Manger is the first Christmas Carol we learn. =) As an adult, I'm now a huge fan of the European version too. Thank you for such an interesting look at this Christmas song!


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