Away in a Manger Hymn Study

This Away in A Manger Hymn Study includes everything you need to study the hymn in one easy download.

Image of greenery with pine cones and red Christmas balls lying beside several pages of sheet music; text overlay that says "Away in a Manger hymn study unit."

Hymn study is a simple way to pass the heritage of hymns on to our children. Use this unit study to help your family learn more about the hymn “Away in a Manger.”

Away in a Manger Hymn History

For many years, people mistakenly thought that the author of “Away in a Manger” was Martin Luther, the well-known German reformer and hymn writer.

Today most people believe that this carol was composed by an unknown American, possibly in the early 1800s.

The words of the song were first printed in a Boston newspaper, The Congregationalist, on January 4, 1882. The first two stanzas were published under the title, “Luther’s Cradle Song.” The newspaper claimed that Martin Luther had composed the hymn for his children, and that German mothers still sang the song to their little ones.

In 1887, an American hymn writer named James Murray included the carol in his songbook, Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses. He called it “Luther’s Cradle Hymn” and credited Martin Luther as the author, just as the newspaper had previously.

Mr. Murray used the same two original stanzas and wrote a simple melody to go along with the words. His melody, known as “Mueller” or “Away in a Manger,” is still the one most commonly sung in the United States today.

Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, a church music director in Chicago, discovered the song a few years later. He published a new edition with a third stanza in Gabriel’s Vineyard Songs in 1892.

Like others before him, Mr. Gabriel credited the text of the song (including the newly added third verse) to Martin Luther. He composed his own music for the words and titled the tune “Cradle Song.”

Another tune still used today (also called “Cradle Song”) was composed by William Kirkpatrick in 1895. Mr. Kirkpatrick also changed the last words of the second stanza from “to watch lullaby” to “till morning is nigh.”

In spite of many claims that Martin Luther wrote “Away in a Manger,” the song has never been found among the many hymns he wrote. We may never know who the true author of the carol is, but it will always be loved by children everywhere.

You may also like: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing Hymn Study

Image of greenery with pine cones and red Christmas balls lying beside several pages of sheet music; text overlay that says "Away in a Manger."

Away in a Manger Hymn Lyrics

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 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.

Hymn Copywork, Notebooking Pages, and More

Copywork pages, notebooking pages, and other printables are now available in one easy download! The Away in a Manger Hymn Study includes everything you need to study the hymn:

  • hymn history
  • lyrics
  • sheet music
  • links to listen to the hymn
  • review questions to gauge comprehension
  • vocabulary words taken from the hymn
  • copywork and notebooking pages
  • related Scripture to memorize
Image of spiral bound book with greenery, pine cones, and sheet music on the cover with the title "Away in a Manger."

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