When I was growing up, I learned three tunes for “Away in a Manger.”
Two of these versions are fairly common, but I have only ever heard one rendition of my favorite. It is from an album you will hear me reference more than once in this series. It is “Home for Christmas,” and it is a compilation holiday album produced by The Book of the Month Club back in 1982. Individual tracks can be found on other albums, but the whole is tough to find. You can learn more about “Home for Christmas,” and listen to most of it here: The Basement Rug
“Away In a Manger,” as sung by Jean Redpath and Lisa Neustadt, is a very different song. Instead of being mild and sweet (sometimes too sweet for my tastes), it is haunting. You can buy their rendition here, on the Shout For Joy album.
Away in a Manger
by unknown writer, misattributed to Martin Luther
Away in a manger, no crib for a 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 cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near 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.
Even with the poor quality of the recording (taken from an album loved nearly into nonexistence), if this doesn’t give you chills, I will be very much surprised.