Little Baby in the Hay

The first time that Mary entered my song writing was long ago in 1978. I was a Methodist at that time and leading the music on guitar for a traditional Christmas pageant where the children dress as the characters and animals for the Manger of Bethlehem. It took place in a small church in Rainer, Oregon, where at the dress rehearsal, the pastor’s wife said something that inspired me to write the song. We had already sung Away in a Manger and Silent Night as the Holy Family, shepherds, Wise Men, angels and various animals made their way to the manger. The pastor’s wife commented, “It’s too bad we don’t have another lullaby for the Baby Jesus so that the children can linger at the manger and the parents can enjoy them a little longer”.
I remember going home after the rehearsal and sitting on the floor in the living room with my guitar. I can’t remember actually writing the song, but I think it came together pretty quickly. I sang it the next evening during the Christmas pageant and have sung it regularly over the ensuing years. Since I became Catholic in 2000, I have always sung it at Midnight Mass. Ever since I wrote it, I have always thought it is my best Christmas song. It always makes a few people cry, so I know it touches people deeply.

My favorite line is at the end of the second verse, “The whole world loves you as a baby boy. They crucify you as a man”. That last sentence hits me like a hammer. Sadly, the words are still true in our own day. How often does the world conveniently use the Baby Jesus at Christmas for its own purposes while ignoring the message of salvation he preached as a man? But those who have faith can see the truth, and it is that truth that sets us free from the bondage of sin and will lead us to heaven, where we will spend eternity with Jesus and his mother and our mother, Mary.