Jesús en pesebre

Away in a Manger

Nativity sculpture in Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina. Photo by Leonora Enking used under terms of Creative Commons license.

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.

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."

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.

Heno: Hay.

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

Buey: Ox.

Bramaron: Bramar refers to the groaning sound of an animal. Here the verb is probably best translated as "bellowed."

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. Thus the phrase da tu bendición means "give your blessing" or simply "bless."

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). Thus the phrase haznos más dignos means "make us more worthy."

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