Away In A Manger – A Christmas Carol Study

Welcome to my second Christmas Carol study.

Yesterday I published my first, about O Little Town Of Bethlehem (which you can check out HERE), and today I’m looking at Away In A Manger.

Have a listen, read my thoughts, and leave a comment.

Let’s jump right in.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.

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When you think of a King, you think of lines of royal parents, being born in a palace, surrounded by powerful people and adoring subjects. This was not the case for Jesus. Despite being the Lord, Creator, and Saviour, Jesus was born to a humble virgin, surrounded by animals, a handful of admirers, and no real bed.

A manger, also called a trough, is a wooden construct used to hold food for farm animals. It was definitely not a place for a baby, let alone God. For God to choose for his son to be born into this environment, shows how much he loves us, and that Jesus was right in saying he came to serve, not to be served.

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

Among the stars shining bright in the night sky, was the Star of Bethlehem.

Prophesied many, many years earlier, God placed a star, brighter than all the others, above the place where Jesus was. This led the Magi (not Kings, and there are no records of it being only three) to him, where they knelt down and worshipped him.

Seeming almost unaware of his Godly status (although it could rightly be argued that there was never a time when Jesus didn’t know he was God), the newborn baby Jesus slept peacefully.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.

This is a very well-known part of the story of the first Christmas. However, there are no records of baby Jesus not crying. Jesus came to Earth, not just to die and rise again so we can spend eternity with God, but so we could have a close relationship with him.

How could you talk to someone (which is what praying is – a conversation with God) who had had no experiences like you had? You would have a hard time. This is why God came down to Earth; to connect with us. This means he probably would have cried as a newborn baby.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle til morning is nigh.

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The second half of the song takes us forward in time, to after Jesus died, rose, and returned to Heaven to reign.

From his place in Heaven, we know Jesus is watching over us (I don’t know if Heaven is physically ‘above’ us), and that is worthy of our love and devotion.

It also shows that while God is above us, looking over everything in his creation, he is also close to us, standing right by our beds.

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.

Matthew 19:14 records Jesus’ words:

“Let the little children
come to me and do
not hinder them, for
to such belongs the
kingdom of heaven.”

Not only do vulnerable children mean a lot to God, but we are all his children, and we all mean a lot to him.

This last line is what it is all about. When Adam and Eve sinned (essentially telling God to take a step back) we separated ourselves from eternal life with God. God promised he would not just let us go, and he came down as Jesus to give us a second chance. If we put our faith and trust in Jesus and acknowledge that he took our penalty of death, then we get to spend eternity with him in heaven.

This Christmas carol focuses on two great things about Jesus: his birth, in which he lowered himself to be born as a lowly human; and his position in Heaven. Jesus is part of the Holy Trinity, and holds a supreme position in Heaven. He loves us, looks after us, and deserves all the songs of praise we write.

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