By Dorothy Dean Holman
(1895 - 1984)
[Edited by John M. Holman, Contributing Writer]
Yes, let's, and while doing so bring back some of those old-time lullabies seldom heard these days.
Years ago every home contained a small rocking chair (they're classed as antiques today) in which the mother (and sometimes father) rocked baby when he became fretful, singing to him/her until he/she fell asleep and was laid gently in his crib.
My family was a large one and each of us was rocked in turn by my mother (or father) while singing a lullaby until we went to sleep. It gave mother a few minutes respite from her daily tasks so numerous in a household of children.
One of the earliest lullabies that comes to mind is --
To get a little rabbit skin, to wrap our Baby in."
But there were others. There was the old familiar one of --
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all."
Frightening thought, but it is doubtful if the baby understood the words. It was the feeling of security and the comfort of mother's arms, accompanied by the soothing sound of her voice, along with the motion of rocking that lulled him/her to sleep.
Another favorite of my mother's and often sung to us, was --
Thy mother is shaking the dreamland tree,
And down falls a little dream for thee,
So sleep, baby, sleep."
Almost everyone knows or has heard of the lovely Brahm's Lullaby, both words and music producing a gentle, soothing sound tending to induce prompt sleep. I quote only the first verse here which goes --
Creep into thy bed, there pillow thy head,
If God wills though shalt wake when morning doth break,
(repeated) If God wills thou shalt wake when morning doth break."
Another old-time lullaby that brings back memories of early childhood is --
Holy angels guards thy bed,
Heavenly blessings without number
Gently falling round thy head.
How much better thou art tended
Than the Son of God could be,
When from Heaven he descended
And became a child like thee."
The following is one I think my mother sang more often than any --
Bye, baby, bye,
The dandelions have closed their eyes,
Bye, baby, bye,
The stars are lighting their lamps to see,
The squirrels and birdies and babies, all three
Are sound asleep as they ought to be,
Bye, baby, bye."
It seems too bad to let the practice of rocking and singing lullabies join the long list of lovely forgotten things. So why not revive them both and rock and sing our babies to sleep.