Yule Blog

Scotland has not been awfully enthusiastic about Christmas for quite a while, ever since Cromwell at least, and before that under the Calvinists. But the sheer pagan enjoyment of the turn of the year has deep roots, and so in recent times Scots have joined in the festivities quite eagerly. Still, one index of the lukewarm reception of Christmas is the lack of carols. I can only think offhand of one, namely the Christ Child Lullaby (Tàladh Chriosd), which is of course in Gaelic. [I refer you to the URL http://singyourfavoritelullaby.blogspot.com/2009/03/christ-childs-lullabytaladh-chriosd.html%5D. There’s quite a few similar things in other cultures, as e.g. “Away in a Manger”, which is not initially addressed to the baby Jesus, and in Polish there’s quite a few, called kołysanki (cradle songs), such as this, which I got from an old friend of mine, the late Jan Freyman, who pointed out that the theme was used (or appropriated) by Chopin:

LULAJŻE JEZUNIU (LULLABY, JESU MINE)

song 1

I admit a better rhyme in the first verse would be “greeting”, which is good Scots but maybe a bit confusing for Sassunachs.

German has, among many others, “Schlaf, mein Kindelein”, found in the Strassburger Gesangbuch of 1697, and still sung in the Rhone region.

song

It continues (with “Singet” etc after each verse):

“Komm, mein Kindelein, schau dein Bettelein,
das für dich bereitet ist!”
“Komm mein Söhnelein in dies Krippelein,
das mit Heu gestreuet ist!”

“Schliess die Äugelein, deck deine Händelein,
den es braust ein scharfer Wind!”
“Schlaf, mein Kindelein, dich das Eselein
wird erwärmen mit dem Rind!”

“Schlaf, mein Ziere, meine Begiere,
schweig, dass sich dein Leid nicht mehr!”
“Schlaf, mein Sohne: von seinem Throne
schickt dein Vater Englein her.”

Each two lines are sung by mother and father, alternately. It’s a bit difficult to render this accurately with the tenderness of all those diminutives, but:

“Sleep, my little one, sleep, my little son”
Sings the mother, purest maid;
“Sleep, my little dear, darling, have no fear,”
sings the father to the babe.
[Chorus:]
Sing all for the little child,
Honey-sweet wee Jesus mild.
Sing, all cherubs in the skies,
A thousand lovely melodies.

“Come, my sleepyhead, see your little bed
That is now all ready made.”
“Come, my little dear, into the manger here
That has hay within it laid.”

“Close your eyes now, cover your hands now,
For a wind that’s sharp does blow.”
“Sleep, my babykin, the manger all within,
Ox and ass will warm you so.”

“Sleep, my pretty one, sleep, my little one,
Hush, and have surcease of care!”
“Sleep, my son, and from his throne
Your Heavenly Father sends angels here.”

That’s my Christmas contribution. A Merry Christmas [and Happy Hannukah, Joyous Kwanzaa and so forth] to all my readers! Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur!

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Filed under Folksongs, Music

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