Musical Countdown to Christmas: Away in a Manger by John T. McFarland
Who was John T. McFarland?
- Born January 2, 1851
- Methodist Minister who served in Iowa, Illinois, Rhode Island, New York, and Kansas
- Edited Sunday School Programs for the Methodist Episcopal Church
The Story behind Away in a Manger
- First published in 1885 in a Lutheran Sunday School book compiled by James R. Murray
- Most people say the author of the first two stanzas is unknown.
- Another collection published in 1887 by James R. Murray (Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses) claimed the song was written by Martin Luther. “Luther’s Cradle Hymn, Composed by Martin Luther for his children and still sung by German mothers to their little ones.”
- The carol became known in Germany AFTER it was widely known in the United States, which discounts the theory that Martin Luther wrote the first two stanzas
- Third stanza was written by John T. McFarland in 1908 for use in a children’s church day program
Historical Context of the Song
- Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was published
- First issue of Good Housekeeping was published
- Louis Pasteur developed a successful vaccine against rabies
- The first bottle of Coca-cola was sold in 1886
- Nikola Tesla began experimenting with x-rays
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