‘Away in a Manger’ in Spanish

Jesús en pesebre

nativity-sculpture-argentina.jpg
Nativity sculpture in Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina.

Leonora Enking / Creative Commons.

Here is a Spanish version of Away in a Manger, a popular children's Christmas song. Don't understand the words? Give your Spanish a boost with the grammar and vocabulary guide that follows.

The song was originally written in English, and it isn't well known in Spanish-speaking countries. The author is unknown.

Jesús en pesebre

Jesús en pesebre, sin cuna, nació;
Su tierna cabeza en heno durmió.
Los astros, brillando, prestaban su luz
al niño dormido, pequeño Jesús.

Los bueyes bramaron y él despertó,
mas Cristo fue bueno y nunca lloró.
Te amo, oh Cristo, y mírame, sí,
aquí en mi cuna, pensando en ti.

Te pido, Jesús, que me guardes a mí,
amándome siempre, como te amo a ti.
A todos los niños da tu bendición,
y haznos más dignos de tu gran mansión.

English Translation of Spanish Lyrics

Jesus in a manger, without a crib, was born;
His tender heard slept on the hay.
The sparkling stars shed their light
On the baby asleep, little Jesus.

The oxen bellowed and he awoke,
But Christ was good and never cried.
I love you, O Christ, and look at me, yes,
Here in my crib, thinking about you.

I ask you, Jesus, to keep watch over me,
Loving me always, as I love you.
Give your blessing to all the children,
And make us more worthy of your great mansion.

Vocabulary and Grammar Notes

Pesebre: As you can guess by the title of the song, this is the word for "manger," a type of box from which farm animals would eat. Because of its use in connection with the Christmas story, pesebre can also refer to a representation of the birth of Jesus, much like the English word "creche."

NacióNacer translates the phrase "to be born."

Cuna: A crib or other small bed made specifically for a child or baby.

Tierna: This word is often translated as "tender" and is frequently used, as here, as an adjective of affection. By being placed before the noun it refers to, tierna here helps convey an emotional meaning.

Heno: Hay.

Astro: Estrella is more frequently used for "star" than is astro.

Brillando: This is the present participle of brillar, which can mean to glitter or sparkle. In standard Spanish, present participles function as adverbs, so brillando should be seen as an adverb modifying prestaban rather than as an adjective modifying astros.

Prestaban: The verb prestar most often means "to loan" or "to lend." However, it is often used, as here, to refer to providing or giving.

Dormido: This is the past participle of dormir, meaning to sleep.

Buey: Ox.

Bramaron: Bramar refers to the groaning sound of an animal.

Mas: Without the accent, mas typically means "but." The word isn't used much in everyday speech, where pero is generally preferred.

: most often means "yes." As can the English word, can also be used as a way of affirming or emphasizing what has been said.

Mírame: The verb mirar can mean simply "to look." In this context, however, it also carries the meaning of "to watch over." Mírame is a combination of two words, mira (watch over) and me (me). In Spanish it is common to attach object pronouns to the end of certain verb forms — commands, gerunds (see amándome below) and infinitives.

Pensando en: In Spanish, the phrase for "to think about" is pensar en.

Me guardes a mí: This is a redundancy. In everyday speech, me guardes (watch over me) would be sufficient. Although in speech the addition of the grammatically unnecessary a mí might be done for reasons of emphasis, here it is used to help provide the right number of syllables for the music.

Amándome: This is a combination of two words, amando (loving) and me (me).

Da: In this context, da is the imperative (command) form of dar (to give) used when speaking to a friend or family member.

A todos los niños da tu bendición: The standard word would place "a todos los niños" after the verb. Spanish is more flexible with word order than English, however, so this sort of sentence structure isn't unusual, 

Haznos: Another combination of two words, haz (the imperative form of hacer, to make, used when speaking to a friend or family member), and nos (us).

Mansión: Usually a dwelling place, but sometimes specifically a mansion. In this context, tu gran mansión figuratively refers to heaven.