This shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.@Luke 2:12

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 show 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.

Muel­ler James R. Mur­ray, 1887 (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
James R. Murray (1841–1905)

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.

illustration
Adoration of the Shepherds
Gerard van Honthorst (1590–1656)