Away in a Manger

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 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 until 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.

When I think about meaningful Christmas songs, there are so many to choose from. The holiday itself is rich with meaning that I don’t find in other music I listen to. There are no “hark the herald angels” on the radio in June; no “round yon virgins” in July. Christmas songs hold meaning in the unique way that traditions tie us to long-held Truth about God and His Word.

But choosing a memorable Christmas song narrows my list. And digging into my longest-held memory unearths the ONE SONG that nearly all of us learned to sing first at Christmas: Away in a Manger. And if you were in a household like mine, there’s a recording out there somewhere of a tiny you cradling an imaginary baby while wearing a “Mary” outfit with your squeaky little voice singing the words. Memorable!

I smile just thinking about it, yet I wonder at what this cradle hymn from Christmastime is really teaching us about our Dear Savior’s birth.

It starts with “away in a manger” because this sweet baby wasn’t born at home in a well-decorated nursery but in a far-off and unprepared place. This birth that had been planned before the beginning of time was still a surprise. This Son of the Most High God was cradled in the most humble setting; the hay being the most sanitary spot for Him to lay.

Then the sounds of cattle punctuate the scene. We all know that with cows come pies and smells and flies. The humble setting seems disturbing for a newborn, and yet this Messiah calmly rests among His creation. How could we not love a God like that?

Yes, our Lord Jesus is fully God, and yes, He remains fully human. His story wasn’t cleaned up to appeal to the high and mighty but continues to relate to the humble and lowly. I’m grateful to have learned that truth in my earliest years. I carry with me the memory of inviting baby Jesus to be near me and care for me. As I walk with Him here, along a humble and lowly path myself, I am fitting into the pattern of heaven that I will enjoy for eternity.

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