An arrangement for flexible String Ensemble


Standard: Easy


Running time: 2 mins

  • What you will receive....

    Your download will contain the score and parts in PDF format, an audio file in MP3 format of a full performance of the piece, and two MP3 piano backing tracks (one with the tune and one without) to aid rehearsal and preparation for performance!


    See our How it Works page for more information. 

  • About the piece



    'Away in a manger,
    No crib for a bed,
    The little Lord Jesus,
    Laid down his sweet head'


    There has been some confusion in the past over who wrote the words to ‘Away in a Manger’. Originally it was thought that it had been written by the German reformer Martin Luther, and that he had written it as a poem to read to his own children. It had been known as ‘Luther’s Cradle Song’.


    But the feeling now is that the words first appeared in an Evangelical Lutheran Sunday school collection called ‘Little Children’s Book for Schools and Families’ in 1885 and that it had in fact been written for Martin Luther’s birthday.


    The music I have arranged is a tune known as ‘Cradle Song’ and was originally composed by Jonathan Spilman in 1837. It was then adapted by an American composer called William Kirkpatrick who published it as the Christmas carol we know it today, in 1895.




    This simple arrangement has been written for very early beginner players. It will work with absolutely any combination - you can choose what works for your ensemble. It is in D major and the tune is written in a violin part and a cello part. There are 4 very simple harmony violin parts (1 is only open strings) and 3 simple harmony viola parts (1 of these is also on open strings - of course you don't actually need to include violas if you don't have any viola players). There is one harmony cello part and a double bass part which could alternatively be played by another cello.


    If you have no one to play the tune then there is a piano part that plays the tune. If you have players who can carry the tune then there is an alternative piano part that doesn’t have the tune. (This is the one used in the full recording.) The piece also works without piano. If you use the piano it comprises of a piano intro – which means you can use either piano backing track in performance – and two identical verses with the intro again between the two verses.