Away In A Manger

Photo credit: Light of Love Nativity

Today, our Christmas carol of topic is Away In A Manger. Although, I didn’t have the 3rd verse memorized until a few years ago, I can confidently say this is one of the most well known Christmas songs because of its simple but poetic lyrics. Something I’ve realized over the years is that some times people have a hard time connecting the dots, myself included. This is especially true today since we’ve all been in fight or flight mode for the past 22 months. Let’s take a moment to connect the dots to this well-known Christmas carol and see if we can rekindle the meaning behind it.

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.

Away in a Manger, Verse 1

As a mother, it brings tears to my eyes to think Mary and Joseph didn’t have a crib for their baby. God has blessed me with the things I needed to provide for my daughter but I remember a time when I struggled to buy diapers and formula for her. My ex-husband and I were arguing over child support and as a single mother, I had to choose diapers, formula and childcare over food for myself (so thankful Ramen noodles are cheap). I was doing my best in all aspects of life and trying to provide for my 1 year old but I still felt like a helpless failure as a mother. I imagine Joseph being just as frantic about laying this precious newborn baby in a feeding trough. I mean, think about what he had been through already. He was denied room and board at the inn. Mary says those magic words – “Joseph, the baby’s coming.” The only place availble is a stable. Stables are usually full of 3 things – animals, hay and poo. I can see him cleaning a spot for Mary to rest as her contractions become more intense. Then, he had to deliver the baby, in a stable, surrounded by animals in unclean conditions. The circumstances on this night were definitely not ideal, but doesn’t that make the story of Jesus’ birth all the more humbling?

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love you, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky,
and stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Away in a Manger, Verse 2

I know all you parents out there have either said these words or had them directed at you: “The baby is sleeping, be quiet!” Can you imagine being surrounded by animals while trying to keep everything quiet for a sleeping baby? Of course Jesus wakes at the rustling of animals, but Jesus, even as a newborn baby, was special. He was there when those cows were created. I see this scene as one of Mary’s first ah-ha moments about Jesus being different than other babies. This verse ends with a great reminder that no matter what we are facing, even a cow waking our newborn baby, the one thing we must always do is redirect our focus back to Jesus and His love.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay
close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care,
and take us to heaven to live with you there.

Away in a Manger, Verse 3

I have to tell you, the one thing that touched my heart is picturing Mary singing these words to her newborn baby. I could definitely see this being a lullaby from Mary to Jesus. Do you feel the motherly love? Do you see Mary’s heart bursting with joy to see this newborn baby, her newborn baby, and know that He is The Messiah? Her sweet baby boy will overcome the world and save her people. He is the one they have waited so long for, and she just gave birth to Him. How does this image change the song for you? Does it make you long to be near Jesus? Does it help you connect with Mary as a mother? Let’s not go another moment without declaring that God is good and His gift of Jesus was the best gift ever given.

Away In A Manger by Pentatonix

Refocusing My Soul to Expand God’s Kingdom & Finding His Blessings, Renee


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