If you are like me and went to a state primary school in the UK, this was probably the first Christmas carol you learned. Actually I’ve just looked it up and apparently it’s the first Christmas carol everyone learns, or at least everyone who learns carols at all. Which I suppose makes sense, because the words are short and simple and there are animals in it, so I can see how it would appeal to small children. That said, it took me a long time to work out what “the cattle are lowing” meant, though I am glad to have found out because when you see the word “lower” as part of a cryptic crossword clue, it quite often indicates that you should be thinking about a cow.
Actually I didn’t learn Away In A Manger at school, but at St James’s Playgroup. St James’s Church was (and is) around the corner from where we lived, and it had (and has) a sculpted crucifix outside it which I was absolutely certain, aged around four, was the real Jesus. So it is the source of all kinds of early religious influence in my life, though I suspect the headteacher who taught me that “the Christian god forgives and the Jewish god punishes” may have been the one who eventually inched me towards my early and ongoing position of tolerant and interested atheism.
Anyway. There is an arrangement of this with an especially pretty alto part, but this isn’t it, I suspect because all-male choirs don’t tend to have many altos, though I have pulled that guess out of thin air and would be delighted to be corrected.
(Actually I’ve just found this page on Wikipedia, which suggests that I am probably, but not certainly, right.)
Sorry about the awful video. I have sacrificed visuals for the sake of aural integrity.
Edit: you can hear (sort of), and read, the pretty alto part here.