Words: Verses 1 & 2, anonymous, in Little Children’s Book for Schools and Families, by J. C. File (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, 1885). Some sources give the author as Martin Luther; this attribution (probably incorrect) is based on the title Luther’s Cradle Hymn, given to these words by the composer, James Murray, in his Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses (Cincinnati, Ohio: John Church, 1887). Verse 3 is by John T. McFarland.
If you have access to a good photo of McFarland (head-and-shoulders, at least 200×300 pixels), would you send us an e-mail?
Bishop William F. Anderson has given the story of the writing of the third stanza:
When I was secretary of the Board of Education, 1904–08, I wanted to use Away in a manger, which I found with the designation, Martin Luther’s Cradle Song, in the Children’s Day program one year. It had but two stanzas, 1 and 2. Dr. John T. McFarland, then Secretary of our Board of Sunday Schools, was my near neighbor in his office at 150th Fifth Avenue [New York]. I asked him to write a third stanza. He went to his office and within an hour brought me the third stanza beginning,Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay.I used it, which was the first time it was ever published. I am pleased to see that it is now being used very widely. The honor of it belongs to that great and good man, John T. McFarland.
McCutchan, p. 436
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the 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 fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.