“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)
Probably one of the first songs little children are taught during this season is “Away in a Manger”. I can remember as a little girl singing this with my class in front of the entire church, each of us stepping out of the choir to say our verse while we recited the entire account of the birth of the Lord Jesus from the Gospel of Luke. It was something we looked forward to each year, singing the sweet lullaby about Baby Jesus and saying our memory verses.
Although some believe this carol was penned by Martin Luther, German religious reformer and author of a number of beautiful hymns, it is almost certainly of late 19th century American origin. Verses 1 and 2 appeared anonymously in Little Children’s Book for Schools and Families, by J. C. File, Philadelphia, 1885, and verse 3 is by John Thomas McFarland (1851-1913). The tune most used is the ‘Cradle song’ by American Gospel song writer W. J. Kirkpatrick (1838-21).
Away In a Manger
Away in a manger, no crib for His 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 in 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.
While the song, unlike so many we’ve highlighted these past few days, does not convey the Gospel in song, it tells of the tender newborn Christ-Child who has captured the love and adoration of generations of children and adults alike. Not because He was a baby born in unfortunate circumstances, but because this Child was God in the flesh come to redeem mankind from the curse of sin and death.
The mere mention of His name, the name of Jesus, works to tenderize even the hardest heart during this season. While we could list the pro’s and con’s of celebrating Christmas in December or celebrating it at all, the fact remains that during this time of year we are given a freedom to share the blessed truth of our Savior’s birth with most anyone and they are more apt to be open to listen.
Let’s take advantage of this season. There are so many ways you can express your love and adoration of this Christ-Child by sharing His life and death and everlasting reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. Don’t be timid. Teach the children the name of Jesus – use simple little songs like “Away in a Manger” and then teach them Who they’re singing about. Recount the last two lines of the last verse . . . “Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.” What better way you yourself to be “fit for heaven” than to share the WHOLE story of Jesus and His love. What better way to fit others for heaven than to share openly about the Jesus who they see lying in a manger.
Father, help me to seek out opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ, no longer a baby in a manger, but reigning King and Lord over all creation. Show me ways to use this season to an advantage, more openly proclaiming the love of God and more boldly sharing the Reason for this season. Father, every time I hear a Christmas song, help me remember that it is an invitation from You to speak into the lives of those around me. If I’m in the store, at work, at home, at a party or get-together…wherever it may be, help me to tell the Good News, that You might be glorified! In Jesus’ name, amen and amen!
© 2008 Jan Ross
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