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

~ 2nd verse to Away In A Manger

Did this idea originate from historical Christian doctrine? Where did this idea come from that baby Jesus didn't cry?

I didn't realize that I had believed this my whole life until literally an hour ago when I was singing the song to my 1 yr old and thought "Wait...what?"

  • Going to be hard to prove, but Christmas Carols aren't usually based on strict doctrine - they are artistic interpretations. "See amid the Winter's Snow" being a classic example. Sep 26, 2015 at 22:10
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    I don't believe he was asking for the truth of any doctrine in his question. This song isn't held to be a doctrine by any church. There are many questions on here which are based on historical beliefs which beliefs are clearly not even mentioned in scripture yet they are allowed to be asked.
    – David Keel
    Sep 27, 2015 at 0:05
  • @BearinaStudebaker Check out the title before edits. I'm sure that's why it got "Truth question" close votes. And rightly so. Flimzy's edited version looks alright to me.
    – Caleb
    Sep 27, 2015 at 7:01
  • an excellent question - especially when we know He cried (wept) as an adult
    – warren
    Oct 2, 2015 at 13:00

2 Answers 2


Did this idea originate from historical Christian doctrine?

I suggest the answer may be "no". (I'm not citing any specific authoritative documents to prove this theory.)

Where did this idea come from that baby Jesus didn't cry?

When I was first exposed to this song, I recall thinking this:

People don't appreciate babies crying. People know that babies cry, but people appreciate babies being quiet. When a baby is sleeping, or otherwise just being quiet, people will sometimes refer to the baby as "being good".

Jesus was perfect.
That means Jesus was good.

I doubt that the song implied that Jesus never cried. I think the song was just portraying a nice situation, including a moment of time when Jesus was being good (by not crying).

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The original author is unknown but it was held almost as German tradition and accepted by them to believe it was written by Martin Luther. The song appeared in a publication called The Myrtle in which it was attributed to Luther and they told of German mothers singing the carol to their children.
However the accreditation to Luther is denied because of the following. Firstly it doesn't appear in any of his writings at a time when things were written down so much and passed on. Secondly the time scale of which the first two verses of the song appeared in The Myrtle and gave their accreditation to him they already had the dates wrong.

It is believed that the songs error of those words is attributed to the heresy of Docetism. (See Wikipaedia article Away In A Manger). Docetism believes that Christ wasn't fully human, but rather a spiritual being. But Docetism has been rejected as a fable since the idea of Christ not being fully human first appeared in the false writings of a book called 'The Gospel of Peter'.

However the Bible says it differently about Christs humanity ...

Hebrews Ch4v15: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

All of this is found in various Wikipedia forms.

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    Sorry, what has Heb 4:15 to do with the question of whether Jesus cried as an infant? Could it be interpreted (even figuratively) as saying sin=crying and since he did not sin he did not cry? I don't see the relevance of that quote if that is not what it's being adduced to say. Sep 27, 2015 at 10:50
  • Who are the "some" and "others," and where do they say these things? Sep 27, 2015 at 14:37
  • Also, saying that the belief is wrong does not answer the question. Sep 27, 2015 at 14:38
  • Hi Andrew, Hebrews Ch4v15 is referring to his humanity, the physical temptations he went through. It is the opposite of the heresy of Docetism which is what the verse in the Carol is believed to be based upon.
    – David Keel
    Sep 27, 2015 at 18:25
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    David, I think you addressed the issue as well as anyone could have. We as humans tend to romanticize about such things. Sep 29, 2015 at 20:24

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