Away in a Manger
Blogged by James Preece on 6th December 2009
I'm fairly sure I first heard this criticism from the lips of Fr Fun a few years ago but I've heard it a few times since and now the Bishop of Croydon Nick Baines (Anglican - so he's no more a Bishop than I am) asks of Away in a Manger...
"I always find it a slightly bizarre sight when I see parents and grandparents at a nativity play singing Away in a Manger as if it actually related to reality. I can understand the little children being quite taken with the sort of baby of whom it can be said 'no crying he makes', but how can any adult sing this without embarrassment? I think there are two problems here: first, it is normal for babies to cry and there is probably something wrong if they don't; secondly, are we really to believe that a crying baby Jesus should be somehow theologically problematic? Or, to put it more bluntly, is crying supposed to be sinful?"
What a moron.
It is normal for babies to cry but it is also normal for them not to cry. Babies do not spend their every waking hour crying and sometimes they simply lay there looking around and gurgling gently.
What the carol doesn't say is "this baby never cries ever" and what it definitely doesn't say is "because a crying baby Jesus wold be theologically problematic because crying is sinful." The song sets a scene: The cattle are lowing (whatever that means), the baby awakes and he doesn't cry.
I've been there, I've been a parent with a baby which simply woke up and looked around. It's a nice intimate moment and it's a nice thought that maybe Mary and Joseph had such a moment with the baby Jesus and it's not entirely unlikely. Neither of my children are God (I would have noticed) and it's happened to me a few times. No doubt there were other not so serence moments but the author of the carol chooses not to evoke them at this time. It's not a biography.
Now if all the miserable gits who can't even make up original criticisms would please naff off that would be lovely.