Old Time Lullabies We Need to Bring Back

For eons parents have been singing soft, soothing (although occasionally terrifying) lullabies to lull their children to sleep.

Many song lyrics convey warnings about daily life – take for example the tune the Luo people in western Kenya sing: ”The baby who cries will be eaten by a hyena,” –an actual possibility in some parts of the country–or the famous Rock A-Bye Baby which warns about cradles falling from the boughs of a tree. (Storing Baby’s cradle in a treetop has always seemed like a risky idea anyway but I’m not here to judge…)Other lullabies have a distinctly spiritual sound, or contain a story about the family’s community. The one common thread is that all lullabies seem to come from a place of love and tenderness, or of wanting to teach and protect the Baby.

With that in mind, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and revisit some of these “oldies but goodies.”

Brahms Lullaby

Lyrics

Lullaby and good night, with roses bedight

With lilies o’er spread is baby’s wee bed

Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed

Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed

Lullaby and goodnight, thy mother’s delight

Bright angels beside my darling abide

They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast

They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast

Brahms Lullaby was written in the 1800’s as a gift for Mr. Brahms’ friend, Bertha Faber, when she had her second child. Brahms was known to be a cranky, cantankerous fellow, but this lullaby is sweet and soothing.

This Little Light of Mine

Lyrics

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine!

Shine all over the world, I’m gonna let it shine.

Shine all over the world, I’m gonna let it shine.

Shine all over the world, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.

Everywhere I go,I’m gonna let it shine.

Everywhere I go,I’m gonna let it shine.

Everywhere I go,I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine,Let it shine,let it shine.

Under a bushel Oh no!,I’m going to let it shine

Under a bushel Oh no!,I’m going to let it shine

Under a bushel Oh no!,I’m going to let it shine

Let it Shine, All the time, Let it shine.

Jesus gave it to me, I’m gonna let it shine.

Jesus gave it to me, I’m gonna let it shine.

Jesus gave it to me, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.

This Little Light of Mine was written in the early twentieth century, by Harry Dixon Loes. He was a student at the American Conservatory of Music. He also wrote or co-wrote several other gospel songs including All Things in Jesus, Blessed Redeemer, Love Found a Way, and Shine For Jesus Where You Are.

Listen to it here.

Hush Little Baby

lyrics

Hush little baby don’t say a word.

Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird won’t sing,

Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring

And if that diamond ring turns brass,

Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass

And if that looking glass gets broke,

Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat

And if that billy goat won’t pull,

Papa’s gonna buy you a cart and bull

And if that cart and bull fall down,

You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town

The origin of this song is unknown. It is speculated that it was written in America because mockingbirds are native to North America.

Listen to it here. 

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

lyrics

Chorus:

Swing low, sweet chariot

Coming for to carry me home

Swing low, sweet chariot

Coming for to carry me home.

I looked over Jordan and what did I see

Coming for to carry me home

A band of angels coming after me

Coming for to carry me home

(chorus)

The brightest day that I can say

Coming for to carry me home

When Jesus washed my sins away,

Coming for to carry me home.

(chorus)

Sometimes I’m up and sometimes I’m down

Coming for to carry me home

But still my soul feels heavenly bound

Coming for to carry me home

(chorus)

If I get there before you do

Coming for to carry me home

I’ll cut a hole and pull you through

Coming for to carry me home

(chorus)

If you get there before I do

Coming for to carry me home

Tell all my friends I’m coming too

Coming for to carry me home

(chorus)

This African-American spiritual was composed by Choctaw freedman Wallis Willis. He was inspired by the biblical story of Elijah being taken to heaven in a chariot. Willis lived in the old Indian territory in the U.S., and wrote this song sometime before 1862.

Listen to it here.

Sarah Cosman

Cosman & Webb Townships Organic, Bury, Quebec, Canada