First published in the 19th century, 'Away in a Manger' is a Christmas carol containing three verses. The lyrics have been set to several musical scores, with the two most-common settings written by William J. Kirkpatrick (1895) and James Ramsey Murray (1887). The song is commonly sung at Christmas time in churches and Christian schools.

The lyrics speak of 'the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay' (verse 1) where the 'cattle are lowing' (verse 2). Different varients of the lyrics are sung throughout the world, but the general wording remains the same. Occasionally, the third verse is omitted, but those who sing it ask Jesus to 'bless all the dear children in thy tender care'.

The origins of the carol are obscure, with it appearing in several song books during the early 1880s. Some claim the German reformer Martin Luther (1483-1545) wrote the lyrics, but there is no evidence of this. Nevertheless, it was often titled 'Luther's Cradle Song'.

The standard melody used in Britain and Ireland is called 'Cradle Song', written by the American composer William J. Kirkpatrick (1838-1921). It was published in 'Around the World with Christmas' (1895), an educational book for children about the celebration of Christmas in various different countries.

In 1996, 'Away in a Manger' was ranked joint second with 'O, Come All Ye Faithful' in a poll about Britain's favourite Christmas carol. It was beaten by 'Silent Night'.

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