Once Within a Lowly Stable, CS 41

2008-away-in-a-mangerI know it’s early still, but I’m sure that most of you music leaders are already thinking about Christmas music.  ONCE WITHIN A LOWLY STABLE is a lovely little Christmas song found in the Children’s Songbook.



Patty and Mildred Hill

This Christmas song was written by Patty S. Hill (1868-1946) and Mildred J. Hill (1859-1916), a sister songwriting team.  Patty generally wrote the words and Mildred composed the music, but for their most famous song, “Happy Birthday to You,” they are both credited with writing the music.  The original version of this song was called “Good Morning to You.”  People seemed to much prefer it as “Happy Birthday to You,” which was another version of the song suggested by the Hill sisters.  According to the 1998 Guinness World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English language.

Patty and Mildred were raised in Anchorage, Kentucky, two of the six children of Rev. William Wallace Hill and Martha Jane Smith.  Reverend and Mrs. Hill firmly believed that their four daughters should acquire professions.  This was a radical idea in the late 1800’s.  Patty went on to become a leader in the early-childhood education movement and Mildred became a musician and composer. Together they wrote books of early childhood music.  One of these, “Song Stories for the Sunday School,” published in 1899, contained the song, ONCE WITHIN A LOWLY STABLE.

Congregation Choir for Primary Arrangement of ONCE WITHIN A LOWLY STABLE

Our Congregation Choir for Primary arrangement of this song includes an enhanced piano part and a countermelody that could be used for voice or any appropriate instrument.

Listen to it here with a violin playing the countermelody.  PURCHASE it here.

Three Suggestions for Using this Arrangement

  1. Use the enhanced piano to add a nice touch to Christmas singing of this song, either at home or in Primary.
  2. Add an instrumental countermelody to the children’s voices singing the main melody.  Verse 1 could be just the children singing with the piano, followed by an interlude verse with just the instrumental countermelody and the piano, and verse 2 could have the children’s voices on the main melody, the piano and the instrumental countermelody all together.
  3. Some of the children or an adult soloist could sing the countermelody.


Our arrangement of ONCE WITHIN A LOWLY STABLE is simple but beautiful.  The children don’t have to learn anything new or hard.  They can simply enjoy singing this song as they always do and, with the addition of any of our various parts, a special musical performance is created.  We hope you enjoy it.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *