When I began plotting my story for A Texas Christmas I knew that my hero was going to be a grouchy old blacksmith who wanted to celebrate Christmas in the only way he knew how … in solitude because of a tragedy he’d experienced during the holidays three years prior. It didn’t take me long to figure out that wasn’t gonna happen because of the blizzard that hit the Texas Panhandle in 1887.
My proposal had him snowed in with a lovely, pregnant woman who gives birth on Christmas Eve, thus the name Away in the Manger. But how I first envisioned my story and how it began unfolding was totally different. Yes, a pretty lady is stranded but instead of being with child she has three year old twins, a boy and a girl, who are precious, inquisitive and much harder for my hero to handle than a pregnant woman would have ever been. As I wrote my story, or as it wrote itself, I realized that my little girl was a mirror image of my youngest granddaughter, Addison Claire … thus the creation of Addie Claire and her brother Damon.
And, of course, once Rand and Sarah discover they love one another and want to be a family; and with one twin in each arm, Rand begins to sing Away in the Manager and is quickly joined by his new love and the children
Here’s a little history I found on the song.
- It doesn’t have a clear-cut author, as it was written in counterpart, but it is one of the most popular hymns and also Christmas carols sang. Whatever the refrain, whichever of the variations; and/or whoever is the true composer, there can be no doubt that this sweet song is a favorite of children and adults alike.Most current publications of Away in a Manger indicate that the writer of the first two stanzas is unknown. Others name Martin Luther as the author. The song was first published in an 1885 Lutheran Sunday School book compiled by James R. Murray (1841-1905), who gave the song a subtitle of Luther’s Cradle Hymn. The third verse was written by John T. McFarland in 1904.
- Some credit the music to Murray; others think he merely harmonized an old German folk song. The words are frequently sung to the tune of the Scottish song Flow Gently Sweet Afton.
- The beloved children’s Christmas Carol is generally sung to one of two melodies. In the U.S. the most popular tune is Mueller, while the United Kingdom prefers the melody of Cradle Song.
Modern research confirms the words date back to the late 19th century and originated in America, not Germany. Richard S. Hill, librarian at the Library of Congress, found that the origins of Away in the Manager came from celebrations of Martin Luther’s 400th birthday among Lutheran churches in the United States in 1883. Hill concluded from his research that an unknown person or persons wrote the words of Away in the Manager as a poem for use in a children’s play at one such Luther birthday party.
There have been several variations of the song, including one or more of the following:
- The first line of the 1st verse – exchange ‘no crib for a bed’ for ‘no room for his head’
- The third line of the 1st verse – omit the word ‘bright’ or exchange ‘bright’ for ‘night’
- The first line of the 2nd verse – exchange ‘the baby awakes’ for ‘the Babe awakes’ or add the word ‘poor’ and remove the (‘The poor baby wakes’)
- The last line of the 2nd verse – exchange ‘stay by my cradle ’til’ for either ‘stay by my bed until’ or ‘stay by my bedside ’til’
- The last line of the 3rd verse – exchange ‘And take us to Heaven’ for either ‘And fit us for Heaven’ or ‘And throw us to Heaven’
Away in a Manger
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 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 ’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 take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.
And, from me to you, I pray each of you had a wonderful Christmas and are ready for a very prosperous and happy 2012!
This is my final blog for 2011 and I want to thank everyone for making my 2011 at Petticoats and Pistols so much fun. I thank you all for sharing your stories with us and look forward to a wonderful New Year here at Wildflower Junction.