Larry performs this intermediate level arrangement of Away In A Manger in this video performance lesson. Click here to download the full christmas song guitar lesson with tab and notation!

Away in a Manger is a Christmas carol 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 ranking it joint second. The two most-common musical settings are by William J. Kirkpatrick (1895, UK) and James R. Murray (1887, USA).

The first two verses of the lyrics were published in the May 1884 issue of The Myrtle, a periodical of the Universalist Publishing House in Boston, Massachusetts. The article claims, under the heading “Luther’s Cradle Song”, that Martin Luther, the great German reformer, who was born four hundred years ago the 10th of next November, composed the following hymn for his children; and it is still sung by many German mothers to their little ones.[2]

The first two verses generally agree with the currently accepted text: the only major difference is “Watching my lullaby” instead of “Til morning is nigh” for the last line of verse two. No music accompanies the words, but the melody of Home! Sweet Home! is suggested.

The song was later published with two verses in an Evangelical Lutheran Sunday School collection, Little Children’s Book for Schools and Families (1885), where it simply bore the title “Away in a Manger” and was set to a tune called “St. Kilda,” credited to J.E. Clark.

The third stanza, “Be near me, Lord Jesus” was first printed in Gabriel’s Vineyard Songs (1892), where it appeared with a tune by Charles H. Gabriel (simply marked “C”), thus these words are probably by Gabriel. Gabriel credited the entire text to Luther and gave it the title “Cradle Song.” This verse is sometimes attributed to Dr. John McFarland, but since the popular story dates his contribution to 1904 (postdating the 1892 printing by 12 years), his contribution is highly questionable.