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Few things change a woman’s life as profoundly as the birth of a child.  To give birth to new life for the first time is to die to one's old self. Nothing is ever the same again.  The Celtic cultures have marked this profound and miraculous milestone with the music of lullabies.  The rite of passage that we call birth has echoed down its wisdom through this timeless and universal tradition. To sing to a newborn child is closer to instinct than intent.

My own connection to lullabies began before I ever gave birth, when I started playing the harp. Lullabies were a big part of the repertoire, but they were not the “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star...” lullabies of Disney movies. Rather, they were often deep, complex, more reflective of the seismic shift from maiden to mother and all the joy and fears that go along with it. 

Irish and Scottish lullabies are, in turn, solemn and light-filled. They reflect the sea of emotions during those months coming up to and after giving birth. 

For more insight into lullabies, I provide you with the following information about their deviation and evolution. As you will see, lullabies reflect beautifully on the human condition and what it is to usher one's child and one's self through birthing and then holding a precious newborn child.



The Joy of Lullabies
Ancient Irish harpers believed that certain melodies could induce powerful states of sleep. They called these melodies "suantraí" or "songs of sleep." On my album, "Close Your Eyes, Love," I have attempted to revive this ageless artform to create and compile a present-day collection of soothing Celtic songs and lullabies to assist with relaxation and sleep for the youngest and oldest alike among my dedicated and devoted listeners.

Origin
It was the duty of the harpers of old to induce a state of sleep using the "suantrai" or "songs of sleep." This did not just apply to children but to all assembled. Even lullabies directed to children often have quite a few adult-like allusions and contain a "darkish" language that we think of as more adult-like. Welcome to the world of the Irish Lullaby! 

When the term Irish Lullaby comes up, many people think of "Toora Loora Loora," a poetic and sweet lullaby written by Tin Pan Alley composers to meet a need for music by a growing immigrant Irish population. Other ethnicities were seeing similar surges and in the early 19th century, recording began in New York. But long before “Toora Loora” was penned, the tradition of the Irish lullaby had long been going strong.

The harpers weren’t just expected to put you to sleep. (Sauntrai - lullaby). They also used "goltrai" - songs of crying - to bring people to tears and "geantrai" to bring people to laughter. So, the function of the musician was that of heightening one's emotion, mostly in communal settings. 

Today, when we have difficulty sleeping, and counting sheep and/or drinking warm milk have failed to help, we look to medicine. It’s hard to think there might have been a time when people viewed music as being far more powerful than anything else available to them relax or sleep.

So, lullabies were never just for children. In fact, while the melodies are often sweet, calming and surprisingly devoid of the complexity that some often associate with Irish music, the lyrics with which they were matched often provided tremendous relief to mothers after giving birth and during the early years of childhood.

Lullabies and the Irish / Scottish Harp Revivals
The Irish and Scottish harp revivals of the mid-20th century greatly favored lullabies. These lullabies showcased pretty voices very nicely and were not too difficult to play. In fact, they were ideal for self-accompaniment. Revivalists, most of them women, were drawn to the beauty of the melodies and their ideal difficulty level for a harp culture that was just beginning to re-ignite after having been silenced for centuries. When it became high fashion in places like Dublin to play the pipes, and the ladies followed suit with the harp, no parlor evening was likely to take place without its share of Irish/Gaelic lullabies.

Teaching using Irish Lullabies
While I was learning to play the harp at a young age, my good teacher, Sr. Eileen, made sure that lullabies were learned and perfected early on because of their simplicity.  One of my first harp tunes was "Seothin a Linibh." The Scottish players often had “teaching tunes,” i.e. songs that were composed specifically for teaching purposes or with a teaching objective in mind. On the Irish side, lullabies often served the purpose of teaching young harpers to use both hands or play and sing at the same time. 

People who listen to traditional Irish music rarely hear a lullaby today, but those of us who started playing the harp, especially at an early age, had plenty of them in their repertoire.

Function of Lullabies
This is where it gets interesting. When I visited Auckland in New Zealand a while back and went to the university to check out the Mauri music, I asked to first listen to lullabies. For me, lullabies of any culture are the gateway to understanding what that culture is all about. Lullabies are sung primarily by women, especially those who aren’t always out front with respect to other musical aspects of the music and culture. That often falls to the men. Yet, women often clearly reflect through the lullaby the true under currents of that group's central compass and, above all, its fears. 

We tend to think of the primary function of lullabies as being the means to calm children, soothing their anxiety and getting them to fall asleep. Upon examining the lyrics of Irish lullabies, however, people are often surprised at how dark they sometimes can be. For me, they are a perfect pathway into the psyche. 

Aside from obviously calming the child, there’s the question of the mother. In rural societies, women often found themselves separate from their husbands for extended periods of time and even isolated. This goes against our traditional view of an idyllic community with constant support. However, the practicalities of hard living, especially on land that was poorer, demanded that men often leave for weeks at a time to work the land or fish the sea. Not only were mothers worried about their children in an age of high infant mortality rates, they were worried for the safety of their husbands in an age when travel was often perilous. In coastal areas where fishing was central, the shared wisdom of communities understood the changing tides. 

We often hear of mothers telling their children what their fathers would bring to them if they were well-behaved and went to sleep. It’s clear that the father was absent and working, but would return. 

In addition, there frequently is a sense of a mother integrating and transforming her reasonable and even unreasonable fears into a childhood world that she’s painting in her mind for her baby. In the well-known Irish lullaby "Dun Do Shuile" (featured on my album "Close Your Eyes, Love"), the mother promises all of the riches that the father will bring home from the sea. The mother also promises a gift from the father if the child closes his/her eyes and goes to sleep. 

The mother in “Gartan Mother’s Lullaby” (see article and verses below) weaves an especially beautiful tapestry as “Sheevra sails his boat ‘till morn across the starry bog.” She sends the child into a beautiful place. She’s setting up a type of altered world and ultimately creating a "state" for him that’s in direct opposition to her fears and anxieties. These types of songs tend to resonate deeply. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is a modern-day example. There’s a poignancy to creating a vivid contrast between words and melody or melody and words. In “Somewhere over The Rainbow,” the words are happy but the melody is at its core, quite sad. Most Irish lullabies have beautiful melodies such as "Castle of Dromore/Take Time To Thrive," yet the words can express fears that are surprisingly dark. (The Castle of Dromore is a well-known and loved lullaby in Ireland and I’ve written more about it in Articles below.)

There is an another aspect of Irish lullabies, as well. It further contrasts the world against the innocent and newborn beauty of the child itself. There’s a gap between the world the mother wishes for her child and what the reality actually is. And there’s an even bigger gap between the innocent nature of the child and the true nature of the world. The expression of this gap in song, in many ways, serves to intensify the mother's love and her desire to protect. 

It is believed that women have warded off middle-of-night fears by singing as much for themselves as for their children. These lullabies can often beseech blessings of protection from Mother Mary or guardian angels while admonishing and bidding harm to that which lurks in the shadows.

As can be readily seen, this juxtaposition of light and dark themes that runs through lullabies is what often makes them so oddly riveting. For me, they’re a more realistic reflection of what mothers actually experience, a deep intense love for their child and a desire to keep them safe contrasting with a world that has become darker for the mother since she now has an innocent child to protect. 

The "suantrai" or lullabies of harpers of old are, for the most part, lost or unfamiliar to us. Yet, there’s an entire group of slow "airs" (i.e., song-like vocal or instrumental compositions) that can unintentionally to put any insomniac to sleep. 

Still, few doubt the power of music to take us to another place.

To experience the joy of lullabies, and all of their emotions, I invite you to listen to a sampling of tracks from my album "Close your Eyes, Love" and, perhaps, let them help you to relax and go to sleep.

Close Your Eyes, Love - Lullabies of the Celtic Lands

Áine Minogue

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Aine's latest CD.
Parents' Choice Approved Award 2012! (All Ages)

Ancient Irish harpers believed that certain melodies could induce powerful states of sleep. They called these melodies 'suantraí' or 'songs of sleep.'

On 'Close Your Eyes, Love' Irish harpist and singer Áine Minogue revives this ancient artform to create a modern day assist for relaxation and sleep from these ancient Celtic sources of nourishment.

"Áine Minogue…. a breath of fresh Éire" Entertainment Weekly

"....a balm for our times" Boston Globe

CREDITS:

All tracks arranged and/or written by A. Minogue and published by Little Miller Music Co, BMI

CREDITS:

Engineer and Mixed by Scott Petito at NRS Recording Studio in Catskill, NY NRSRecording.com Co-Produced by Áine Minogue and Scott Petito Assisted by: Beth Reineke

Irish harp & Vocals: Áine Minogue Guiar, Keyboards, Bass, programming : Scott Petito Clarinet: Tom Hill Cello: Eugene Friesen Harmony Vocals: Áine Minogue & Leslie Ritter Irish Whistle: Seamús Egan

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  1. 1 Take Time To Thrive 06:27 Lyrics
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  2. 2 William's Lullaby 04:33 Info
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  3. 3 Slumber My Darling 03:27 Lyrics
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  4. 4 Close Your Eyes, Love 05:25
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  5. 5 Dún Do Shúil 04:52 Lyrics
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  6. 6 Mary's Lullaby 02:57
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  7. 7 Gartan Mother's Lullaby 05:49 Lyrics
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  8. 8 The Ashgrove 03:49
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  9. 9 Suo Gan 05:37 Info
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  10. 10 I Am Asleep 05:03
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Interview
The Celtic Beat: "Close your eyes, Love" 

Aine: It's really interesting that people were really clear from the start that it was not just for children despite the fact that it has a lullaby title. Irish lullabies are not lullabies at all but an expression of those beautiful themes of the vital system of life that runs through all of Celtic mythology; the theme of our living in a vital system. Things come to be and they pass away. The world is full of shadow and light and we cannot have one without the other.

Celtic Beat: Lullabies are thought of today as something for children-but were they also meant as or adults-particularly from court harpers.

Aine: Much like fairytales, relegating music of sleep to the nursery is a relatively recent event. Highly skilled harpers of old were adept at aiding people in emotional release, including releasing their fears and worries before sleep. In a pre-psychology world, music was the primary conduit for the release of emotion. They even named the three categories and had extensive music in each: ganantraí (songs of laughter), goltraí (songs of sorrow) and suantrai (songs of sleep). No harper was considered to have honed his or her skills without being able to bring people to each of these states. The songs of sleep (suantraí) were never really about children. It was about getting to sleep, being soothed. Since this was the true harp music and some of the earliest Irish music, it is particularly close to my heart.

Celtic Beat: Do you have lullabies from several different traditions ... as in Sorrow, Sleep, Laughter?

Aine: It's predominantly Irish. I drew on the Welsh tradition for two tracks. There are two originals and a Stephen (Collins) Foster track (American). After that, it's divided evenly between instrumental and vocal (five vocal, five instrumental). "Close Your Eyes, Love," the title track, was my modern day homage to the "suantraí" tradition. Also, "Taimshe im Chodladh" is recorded (which has different Gaelic words today), but I truly believe that was originally a suantraí, however, I don't have an academic basis for that. It's just an opinion. Let's just say the engineer took a lot of naps during that mix.

Celtic Beat: Also, is there a difference at different points of history ... we think of lullabies as something in the 17th century as something that you had along with your pike or sword at your side (silver dagger ha ha) and one eye cocked open?  What sources and background are there for the lullabies?

Aine: In a word - women. Women carried the music of life and some of its most wondrous melodies, lyrics, and songs are cached in the lullaby repertoire. As well as being an excellent oral history, they often contains some of its most beautiful and accessible, although overlooked, music. When I went to New Zealand a few years back and visited the university to study the Maori music , I asked for lullabies first. They reveal so much. In terms of actual sources, lullabies formed a huge part of the cultural revivals in both Ireland and Scotland (20th century) particularly for the harpists. When I went to boarding school in County Galway our wonderful teacher, Sr. Eileen Walsh, introduced me to a lot of lullabies early on as part of the harp repertoire. There's just something about the times that makes me want to go back to the 'beginning' to a place of re-birth and simplicity. And many of the women who started the harp revival in Ireland and Scotland passed these lullabies down. Honestly, a lot of the songs on this album were already in my head. 

Celtic Beat: How does this theme work with your other (laments, meditations, celebrations of the holy days (Imbolc-Brigid)? We have always seen that one of your great strengths is clarity and the building around themes.

Aine: The spiral is a riveting symbol for me and cycles of all kinds have been central to everything I've recorded, whether it's the wheel of the year or the life cycle. In the Celtic wheel of the year, the day starts at dusk not dawn. I recorded Celtic Lamentations first and looked at dying; then Celtic Pilgrimage and Meditation and this is really the final in the Celtic life-cycle series. In today's terms, it might appear strange to end a life cycle series with a birth concept, but from the Celtic point of view, you lead with the dark and end with the light. So, that's how it fits together. And, it is done for now. The cycle starts again.

Articles
Castle of Dromore / Take Time To Thrive
Track 1 of "Close your Eyes, Love"

There are many Dromore Castles in Ireland and many Blackwater rivers, so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which one this song is referring to and as time goes by, I have found myself less concerned with the external geography of this music and far more taken with the internal geography across which it traverses. What is fascinating about Irish lullabies are their blatant journeying into shadowy or downright dark territory.  

The mother uses the word die, lament, and banshee (a supernatural figure who is the harbinger of death in Irish folklore in a song that she is singing to her child!). Today, we would be appalled at the use of such language in a lullaby. However, traditionally, the function of the lullaby was much wider, and served as a genuine psychological function. We need to remind ourselves that we are dealing with a pre-psychology era, and that while the melody served to comfort the child, the words themselves often served to comfort the mother, herself. Their husbands were often at sea or on long days of farm work, or if these children were being raised communally, and the mothers themselves were also working, then whomever was singing these songs was sure of one thing - life was difficult! 

And, yet what shines through consistently is the "ray of hope" and sheer joy that these children provide. The reality of a hard life contrasted with the joy of holding a child; the interplay of light and shadow comes across powerfully in the Irish Lullaby in a way that is sorely absent in modern children's music. 

The fears of the mother, although sometimes unfounded (known as "dread spirits"), are also clearly expressed vocally or aloud so that the mother may rest easy and not be troubled by images of things that go bump in the night. Parents, and particularly mothers, worry. Saying blessings for a child to ward off harm as old or ancient as life itself. 

While it seems strange for a lullaby to invoke the sense of life's difficulties, the sense that we must work hard, the fear of what spirits lurk, the sense that autumn is never far away, there is also the constant reminder in the form of new life and the invocation to the child to "take time to thrive," "to hope" to invoke the blessing from on high and to remember that in the face of all that must be faced in life that children are "a bud of spring."

Lyrics of "The Castle of Dromore" / "Take Time To Thrive" 

The October winds lament
Around the Castle of Dromore,
Yet peace is in its lofty halls,
My loving treasure store.
Though autumn leaves may droop and die
A bud of spring are you.

CHORUS:
Sing hush-a-bye loo, la loo, lo lan, Sing hush-a-bye loo, la lo.

Bring no ill winds to hinder us,
My helpless babe and me,
Dread spirit of
Blackwater banks, Clan Owen's wild banshee.
And Holy Mary pitying us In heav'n
for grace doth sue.
Sing hush-a-bye loo, la loo, lo lan, Sing hush-a-bye loo, la lo.
Take time to thrive, my rose of hope,
In the garden of Dromore.
Take heed, young
eagle, till your wings
Are feathered fit to soar.
A little rest and then the world
Is full of work to do
Sing hush-a-bye loo, la loo, lo lan, Sing hush-a-bye loo, la lo.
Gartan Mother's Lullaby

The most striking thing about this song is the exquisite poetry and number of allusions. Many early Irish poets loved these allusions, however they were often to Ancient Greece and Rome.

The picture painted here is striking and vivid. The lyrics are attributed to Seosamh MacCathmhaoil (Joseph Campbell - not Joseph the mythologist!) who added his lyrics to a tune collected by his friend Herbert Hughes in Donegal the previous year. It is often said that Campbell had arrived back from a similar song-collecting expedition when he wrote the piece and is liable to have been influenced or picked up much of it from other sources. In truth, I’ve never found it quite clear as to where it all originated. 

What makes this lullaby similar to other Irish lullabies is its contrast of light and dark, the innocence and light of the child juxtaposed against a word that if full of threat. Here we see the mother having an opportunity to release her conflicting emotions after the birth of a child; the abiding sense of love and the miracle and awe of the new child form a ring of innocence and beauty against the backdrop of a world that is often under thrall to the castles on the hill.

The mother paints the picture of a beautiful world to calm her babe to sleep and in so doing, calms herself. 

These elements - expression of fear, express of love, wanting a better world for ones child are seamlessly drawn together in this lullaby. The function of the lullaby is primarily to put the child to sleep. It’s fair to assume the child doesn’t understand the lyrics but only hears the comforting voice of the mother. The mother gives voice to her fears and anxieties; the child sleeps.

Rural Ireland was often a place where men had to leave for periods of time to go to work, whether harvesting, working the land, or going to sea to fish, a woman might find herself alone in the evenings.

To view lullabies simply as a means to lull a child to sleep is to miss the rich human reflections they offer. The lullabies of every culture can give a deep insight to how it is that culture functions. 

After women give birth, they find themselves in balancing two realities: that of unconditional love and the harsh realities of life. Music and these songs often provided a means to integrate these opposites so that a mother could enjoy every day with her precious child.

Sleep, O Babe, for the red bee hums,
The silent twilights fall.
Aoibhaill from the Grey Rock comes
To wrap the world in thrall.
A leanaby o, my child, my joy,
My love and heart's desire.
The crickets sing you lullaby
Beside the dying fire.
Dusk is drawn and the Green Mans' thorn
Is wreathed in rings of fog;
Siabhra sails his boat till morn
Upon the starry bog.
A leanabh o, the paly moon
Hath brimmed her cusp in dew,
And weeps to hear this sad sleep tune.
I sing, my love, to you

Pronunciation:
Aoibheall - (EE-val) Meaning: the name of the queen of the northern fairies.
Aoibheall was a fairy queen of Thomond in Irish Mythology (very near to where I was born).
Leanaby - (LYAN-uv) Meaning: little child, baby
Siabhra - (SHEE-vra) a prankster class of trooping fairies (similar to American-Indian pranksters) playful and childlike.

The Grey Rock: Carriage Liath was the name of her (Aoibheall) castle. It was reportedlylocated on Grey Rock Hill overlooking the Shannon River. It’s about a mile and a half from Killable, County Clare on the Clare side of the river.


Stephen Collins Foster (American Songwriter)

Stephen Foster was of Irish descent. He was born on July 4th, a true child of America in 1826.

His great grandfather, Alexander Foster had hailed from County Derry in the North of Ireland. He is believed to have moved to the United States 1725 settling in Pennsylvania. 

Aside from that connection to Ireland of which we’re all very proud, Stephen is thought to have been deeply influenced and greatly admired the work of Thomas Moore. Moore’s melodies had a place in Irish parlors for decades. Interestingly, he often took up the work of the harp music collector Edward Bunting and added his Victorian-style language. Moore's melodies were popular worldwide and he reached great acclaim in his lifetime. 

He was the ninth of ten children. Foster seemed to have all of the great lyrical qualities of his forefathers while adding a uniquely American slant. “Oh Suzannah” would be a masterpiece in any era. Sadly, he died with just a few cents in his pocket as a very young man who struggled mightily with alcoholism. At the time, there were vendors everywhere selling his sheet music. It brought about a backlash and essentially gave birth to copyright regulations and laws for musicians in the United States. 

I find his work “Slumber My Darling” somewhat heartbreaking. Interestingly, it’s written by a man, but not just any man. It was written by Foster, an absolutely genius of American folksong and author of "Oh Suzannah," "Beautiful Dreamer," and countless other magical melodies. 

It’s clear that Foster struggled with alcoholism until his early death. The line “while others their revels keep, I will watch over you” had deep meaning for Foster. If anyone was “keeping revels,” Stephen would have been the man. What’s particularly poignant about this song is that he appears to put himself in the shoes of the child’s mother, and he pledges to keep the child safe. It follows the natural progression of many Irish lullabies in creating a beautiful world, blessing the child and praying that “the angels” will keep the child from harm. The only thing missing is an expression of fear. But, nowhere else does Foster give himself away as expressing anything other than the feminine - a true and deep sense of imagination. A man who put himself in a woman’s shoes, the one who minded his child while he was “keeping revels.” Such a gift as he had ...

Lullaby Poetry 

Along with beautifully written and composed lullaby songs from centuries ago, many lullaby themed or titled poems
also were penned by some notable figures in world history, including British poets Alfred Lord Tennyson and
William Blake, as well as Scottish poet and playwright Sir Walter Scott.  

A collection of poems by them and several others, many with Celtic and Irish origin, are presented below.
 

Mary’s Lullaby

See the child that Mary bore
On her lap so softly sleeping
In a stable cold and poor
Ox and ass their vigil keeping
Sing lullaby, sing lullaby
My own dear son, my child
Lullaby, sing lullaby
Lullaby, my little baby
Flights of angels round his head
Sing him joyful hymns of greeting
Peace on earth, goodwill to men
Each to each the song repeating
Shepherds kneeling by his bed
Offer homage without measure
Wise men, by a bright star led
Bring him gifts of richest treasure

VERSION II

Lullaby, lullaby, my little one.
Lullaby, my child so dear.
Thy precious life has just begun
Thy mother holds thee
near.

Mary’s Lullaby appears as an instrumental on “Close Your Eyes, Love” but thought
you might like the lyrics. It is of course about Mary the Mother.


The Ash Grove
by Talhaiarn (John Jones 1810-1870)

Shine, blessed sun, on the home of my boyhood,
Bright be thy rays on the ancient "Ash Grove";
Dear to my heart is the home of my parents,
Home of my infancy, home of my love;
Far, far away I have sailed o'er the ocean,
Still guided by fate on the wings of unrest;
Oh! that I had the swift wings of the swallow,
To fly to my home, to return to my nest.
Here in the night when I'm sleeping and dreaming,
Far, far away in the Land of the West;
Innocent friends of my childhood surround me,
Visions of happiness lull me to rest:
Ah! when I wake with a start in the morning,
Bedewed are my cheeks as I silently mourn;
Longing for home and my youthful companions,
How hopeless the wish! I shall never return.


The Ash Grove
Another version
by John Oxenford

The ash grove, how graceful, how plainly 'tis speaking,
The wind [harp] through it playing has language for me.
Whenever the light through its branches is breaking
A host of kind faces is gazing on me.
The friends of my childhood again are before me,
Each step wakes a memory as freely I roam.
With soft whispers laden its leaves rustle o'er me,
The ash grove, the ash grove again [alone] is my home.


All Things Bright and Beautiful
Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander (1823-1895) wrote the lyrics for this beloved hymn 
which made its first appearance in her “Hymns for Little Children” (1848)
Originally set to the melody of the tune “Royal Oak,” several melody versions have 
appeared since then. Thought to be inspired by Genesis 1:31, it is regarded as an
Anglican hymn although it appears through the Christian canon. Mrs. alexander
was the wife of the then Archbishop of Armagh stationed in Derry, Northern Ireland.

 All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all. Seo


Sweet and Low
by Alfred Lord Tennyson 1809-1883

Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother's breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep


Connemara Cradle Song (Traditional Irish)

On the wings of the wind o'er the deep rolling sea
Angels are coming to watch o'er thy sleep
Angels are coming to watch over thee
So list to the wind coming over the sea

CHORUS:
Hear the wind blow, love, hear the wind blow
Lean your head over and hear the wind blow
Oh, winds of the night, may your fury be crossed,
May no one who's dear to our island be lost
Blow the winds gently, calm be the foam
Shine the light brightly and guide them back home
The currachs are sailing way out on the blue
Laden with herring of silvery hue
Silver the herring and silver the sea
And soon there'll be silver for baby and me
The currachs tomorrow will stand on the shore
And daddy goes sailing, no never no more
The nets will be drying, the oars put away
And daddy is home babe and home he will stay.


For a New Baby
Len Graham / Skylark 
Original words and music by Peggy Seeger, Harmony Music Ltd.
New words by Len Graham, Music by Garry O Briain

The autumn was long and the winter too
Long and slow and dreary.
Til the Spring it parted her and you,
Singing, hush-a-bye my dearie,
Singing hush-a-bye my laddie.
Her back is broke and her belly is sore,
And your mammy she can’t come near me.
And it’s up all night to walk the floor,
Singing, hush-a-bye my dearie,
Singing hush-a-bye my laddie.
Though you keep me waking night and day,
Your crying it makes me weary
You’re as welcome as the flowers in May,
Singing, hush-a-bye my dearie,
Singing hush-a-bye my laddie.
The time is come and the time ie here,
And I know that it’s going to fear me,
To set you drifting on the tide,
Singing, hush-a-bye my dearie,
Singing hush-a-bye my laddie.

See also – music of Wil Tan per Bridget Fitz


Goodnight Song (Amhrán Ouch’ Mhaith) English Translation

It’s time to go home 
and go to rest;
my chair is urging me to rise.
This is a sign to us
to move
drawing us toward our beds.

My good lads, 
it’s an omen to us to go home.
The darkness is falling on the hearth,
telling us

to go to rest;
it’s nearly time to say good night.


Scottish Lullaby
Ho-ro-ro, hi-ri-ri
Sleep until dawn

O, hush thee, my baby,
Thy sire was a knight,
Thy mother a lady
Both lovely and bright;
The woods and the glens from
The towers which we see,
They are all belonging,
Dear baby, to thee.

O, fear not the bugle,
Though loudly it blows,
It calls but the warders
That guard thy repose;
Their bows would be bended,
Their blades would be red,
Ere the step of a foeman
Draws near to thy bed.

O, hush thee, my baby,
The time will soon come
When thy sleep shall be broken
By trumpet and drum;
Then hush thee, my darling,
Take rest while you may,
For strife comes with manhood
And waking with day.



Lullaby of an Infant Chief
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

O hush thee, my babie, thy sire was a knight,
Thy mother a lady, both lovely and bright;
The woods and the glens, from the towers which we see,
They all are belonging, dear babie, to thee.
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo,
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo.
O fear not the bugle, though loudly it blows,
It calls but the warders that guard thy repose;
Their bows would be bended, their blades would be red,
Ere the step of a foeman drew near to thy bed.
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo,
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo.
O hush thee, my babie, the time soon will come
When thy sleep shall be broken by trumpet and drum;
Then hush thee, my darling, take rest while you may,
For strife comes with manhood, and waking with day.
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo,
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo.


Brahm’s Lullaby

Lullaby, and good night,
With pink roses bedight,
With lilies o'erspread,
Is my baby's sweet head.

Lay you down now, and rest,
May your slumber be blessed!
Lay you down now, and rest,
May thy slumber be blessed!

Lullaby, and good night,
You're your mother's delight,
Shining angels beside
My darling abide.

Soft and warm is your bed,
Close your eyes and rest your head.
Soft and warm is your bed,
Close your eyes and rest your head.

Sleepyhead, close your eyes.
Mother's right here beside you.
I'll protect you from harm,
You will wake in my arms.

Guardian angels are near,
So sleep on, with no fear.
Guardian angels are near,
So sleep on, with no fear.

Lullaby, and sleep tight.
Hush! My darling is sleeping,
On his sheets white as cream,
With his head full of dreams.

When the sky's bright with dawn,
He will wake in the morning.
When noontide warms
the world, He will frolic in the sun.


All Through The Night (Welsh)

Angels watching, e'er around thee,
All through the night
Midnight slumber close
surround thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping
I my loved ones' watch am keeping,
All through the night
While the moon her watch is keeping,
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping,
All through the night
O'er thy spirit gently stealing,
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling,
All through the night.

All Through The Night (Welsh) VERSION II

All Through the Night
Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee
All through the night
Guardian angels watch beside thee
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and dale in slumber sleeping
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night
While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night
O'er thy spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy (happy) feeling
All through the night
While the earth in calm reposes,
All through the night.
Thou shalt sleep as sleep the roses,
All through the night.
O'er thy cradle stars are beaming,
Silver bright the moon is gleaming;
Thou shalt tread the land of dreaming.
All through the night.


Christ Child Lullaby

My love, my pride, my treasure oh
My wonder new and pleasure oh
My son, my beauty, ever You
Who am I to bear You here?
The cause of talk and tale am I
The cause of greatest fame am I
The cause of proudest care on high
To have for mine, the King of all
And though You are the King of all
They sent You to the manger stall
Where at Your feet they all shall fall
And glorify my child, the King
There shone a star above three kings
To guide them to the King of kings
They held You in their humble arms
And knelt before You until dawn
They gave You myrrh and gave You gold
Frankincense and gifts untold
They traveled far these gifts to bring
And glorify their new born King


A Bunch of Roses
by John Bannister Tabb

The rosy mouth and rosy toe
Of little baby brother
Until about a month ago
Had never met each other;

But nowadays the neighbors sweet,
In every sort of weather,
Half way with rosy fingers meet,
To kiss and play together.


Dance, Little Baby
by Ann Taylor

Dance, little baby, dance up high,
Never mind baby, mother is by ;
Crow and caper, caper and crow,
There little baby, there you go ;
Up to the ceiling, down to the ground,
Backwards and forwards, round and round;
Dance little baby, and mother shall sing,
With the merry coral, ding, ding, ding.

Variation:

Read, little baby, read and grow,
Look at the pictures, we'll go slow.
Read and wonder, listen and know,
There, little baby, there you go!
Read, little baby, read and learn;
Backwards and forwards, pages turn.
Read, little baby, Mother will, too,
Such a happy story,
All for you!


Cradle Song
by William Blake 1757-1827

Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.
Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.
As thy softest limbs I feel
Smiles as of the morning steal
O'er thy cheek, and o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart doth rest.
O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep!
When thy little heart doth wake,
Then the dreadful night shall break.