Away In a Manger

Away In a Manger (iTunes)
Words anonymous, Music by William Kirkpatrick
From the album Peace On Earth (Provident Label Group LLC)

Although this week's featured hymn is one of the most beloved Christmas carols in the English language, its origins are unknown.  The first two verses of "Away In a Manger" were first published in May 1884 by a publishing house in Boston, and were titled "Luther's Cradle Song."  However, the attribution to Martin Luther is most likely false.  The third verse was added in 1892, sometimes said to be written by John MacFarland, but again, that attribution is probably not accurate.  The text, which is often considered a children's carol, begins with a description of the newborn Jesus in the manger (from Luke 2:4-7) and ends with a prayer that Jesus would remain close to his children.

There are at least 41 tunes connected with this carol, with melodies written by James Murray (1887) and William Kirkpatrick (1895) being the most commonly sung.  These tunes have the gentle lilt of a lullaby.