A birthday gift of lullabies for Baby Cambridge
By Natasha Zaman
After a long wait, the royal baby has arrived. To honor the occasion, congratulate the Duchess of Cambridge, and welcome the new baby, we at Oxford University Press (OUP) have arranged a birthday gift: a compilation of classic lullabies from some of the different regions around the globe where OUP has offices.
Lullaby from the United Kingdom:
Over the Hills and Far Away
“Over the Hills and Far Away” is a traditional English song from the 17th century. There are at least three versions of this lullaby — written by D’Urfey, Gay, and Farquhar — but the title line and the tune has always remained the same over the years. All the different versions of the song also begin with the same theme, about Tom, the Piper’s Son who only knows one tune, this one.
Lullabies from the Americas:
All The Pretty Little Horses
“All The Pretty Little Horses” describes a mother or caretaker singing a baby to sleep, promising that when the child wakes up it “shall have all the pretty little horses.” There is a theory that explains that the song used to be sung by an African American slave to her master’s child. The slave could not take care of her baby because she was too busy taking care of her master’s child.
The song “Oneida” is named after one of the six tribes associated with the Iroquois confederacy, known today as the Hadenosaunee. When roughly translated in English, the lyrics mean:
“Sleep, sleep, baby, I love you
Because you are a very good child, I love you…”
A La Roro Niño
“A la roro niño” is a lovely, sensitively arranged Mexican carol which when translated in English mean:
“Rock my child, rock
Sleep my child, sleep my love…”
Lullabies from Europe:
“Bayushki Bayu” is a beautiful lullaby from Russia that means:
“Sleep, my darling, sleep, my baby, close your eyes and sleep.
Darkness comes, into your cradle, moonbeams shyly peep…”
“Frère Jacques” is the original French version of the rhyme:
“Are you sleeping, are you sleeping
Brother John, Brother John
Morning bells are ringing…”
The tune was first published in 1811, and the lyrics were published in Paris in 1869.
Lullabies from Asia:
So Ja Rajkumari
“So Ja Rajkumari” is an old children’s song first sung in the movie Zindagi in 1940 by singer K. L. Saigal and later by popular singer Lata Mangeshkar as a tribute to Saigal. In English the lyrics are:
“Go to sleep, princess, go to sleep
Go to sleep, my precious one
Sleep and see sweet dreams, in the dream see your beloved…”
Zhao Z Zhao
“Zhao Z Zhao” is a fun Chinese children’s song which means:
“Looking for a friend
Find a good friend
Making a salute, shaking hands
You are my good friend…”
Lullaby from Africa:
Kye Kye Kule
“Kye Kye Kule” (pronounced “Chay Chay Koolay”) is a popular Ghanian song that has been picked up by children all over the globe. It originated from the Fanti Tribe who speak Fanti and Twi. The song does not have any real words in it but is more like a rhyming teasing song that can be played along with a game of touch your head, touch your shoulder-hips-knees-and-toes.
Lullaby from Australia:
The “Kookaburra” lullaby originated in Australia. It is about a native Australian bird called the Kookabura which is famous for its unmistakable call that sounds uncannily like loud, good-natured but hysterical human laughter.
Natasha Zaman is a marketing intern at Oxford University Press in New York.