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Updated 12/27/2019


Away in a Manager (Spilman)

"Away in a Manger" was first published in the late nineteenth century and used widely throughout the English-speaking world. In Britain, it is one of the most popular carols; a 1996 Gallup Poll ranked it joint second. Although it was long claimed to be the work of German religious reformer Martin Luther, the carol is now thought to be wholly American in origin. The two most-common musical settings are by William J. Kirkpatrick (1895) and James Ramsey Murray (1887).

The most popular musical setting in the United States is commonly known as "Mueller". The melody was first published, under the title "Luther's Cradle Hymn", by James R. Murray in his collection Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses (1887). James Ramsey Murray (1841 - 1905) was an American composer and author including of songbooks. His work includes hymns and Christmas music and was published by Root & Cadyas well as S. Brainard Sons.

Another popular arrangement, found at least as early as 1897, sets the words to Jonathan E. Spilman's 1838 melody "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton". Jonathan Edwards Spilman (April 15, 1812 –May 23, 1896) was a Kentucky lawyer, minister, and composer. Spilman graduated from Illinois College in 1835. While at Transylvania Law School, 1837, he wrote the music for Robert Burns' "Flow gently, sweet Afton", best remembered of his seven melodies, and also "We Hail Thee Carolina", the alma mater of the University of South Carolina.



Lyrics by William J. Kirkpatrick

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 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 take us to heaven to live with thee there.