Now one of the most popular Christmas carols (a 1996 Gallup poll put it in second place), Away In A Manger is a story wrought with historical controversy. Many early sources credit the lyrics to Martin Luther, the German father of Christian Protestantism, active in the early 1500s. Even as late as the 20th Century, the song was sometimes labeled “Luther’s Cradle Song” or simply attributed to him with an origin in Germany.

Pentatonix performing Away in a Manger from the album A Pentatonix Christmas (Deluxe) (2017).

Today, however, historians have debunked this myth, since none of Luther’s own writings make mention of it, no German text has ever been found dating older than the 20th Century, and the style of writing simply isn’t that of Luther’s own prose. Luther did, however, write the less popular 1534 carol, Vom Himmel Hoch, da Komm Ich Her (“From Heaven Above To Earth I Come”), but that’s a completely different carol.


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 side
'Til 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.