We had a family theological argument over dinner about three weeks ago about this carol, because Erin proclaimed that "Baby Jesus never cried" and cited this as her proof. Well, I couldn't let that one just stand and sent Jon off to fetch the Bible and search through the Gospels for all the stories of Jesus's birth and childhood and lo!, nowhere is it mentioned that He didn't cry (or that He did, for that matter). Then we had a long conversation about taking things like Christmas songs as Biblical truth, and that even something you may sing in parochial school for the Christmas program in the church may not be quite accurate, even though it can be a fine song.
4. Away in a Manger
Let’s get rid of the fake Reformation history first: This was not written by Martin Luther. As the incredible website The Hymns and Carols of Christmas notes, “Verses 1 and 2 appeared anonymously in Little Children’s Book for Schools and Families, by J. C. File, Philadelphia, 1885, and verse 3 is by John Thomas McFarland (1851-1913).”
As for the theological history, several scholars have noted a bit of heresy in the line, “no crying he makes.” The argument is that such a line denies Jesus’ humanity. More recently, N.T. Wright has criticized the hymn for emphasizing heaven rather than the New Earth. (“Fit us for heaven to live with thee there.”)
May there be no crying made in your households today.