The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #14075   Message #851320
Posted By: Desert Dancer
20-Dec-02 - 03:37 PM
Thread Name: Lyr/Chords: Christmas Lullaby (Doc Watson)
Subject: Cradle Hymn
Here are Ruth Crawford Seeger's verses and notes, in American Folk Songs for Christmas (Doubleday, 1953):

Cradle Hymn

Hush, my babe, llie still and slumber,
Holy angels guard thy bed,
Heav'nly blessings without number
Gently stealing on thy head.

How much better art thou attended
Than the Son of God could be
When from heaven he descended
And became a child like thee.

Soft and easy is thy cradle,
Coarse and hard the Savior lay
When His birthplace was a stable
And His softest bed the hay.

"Cradle Hymn from Devil's Ditties, by Jean Thomas (The Traipsin'Woman) Copyright, 1931, by W. Wilbur Hatfield, Chicago, p. 119. The tune, from a Tennessee singer, is closely related to the shape-note "Restoration" (Southern Harmony, p. 5), whose 3-part setting has been used as basis for the piano accompaniment [here]. The words are part of the 14-stanza poem by Isaac Watts. In Kentucky, "Cradle Hymn" stanzas are said to have been sung to the tune of "Go Tell Aunt Nancy." This latter can be found as "Greenville" in the 1823 edition of The Handel and Haydn Society Collection of Church Music, p. 233. And "Greenville" appears to be a simplification of an air from Jean Jacques Rousseau's opera Le Devin du Village, first performed at Fontainebleau in 1752. Reousseau's tune is itself clearly in folk idiom."

In 1989, Rounder Records has reissued the Seeger family recordings of the songs from American Folk Songs for Christmans in a 2-cd set. Mike Seeger sings the song, accompanying himself on autoharp with Peggy Seeger's son Calum MacColl playing bowed psaltery. (Mike, Peggy, and Penny appear on the recordings, with members of their families, including Ewan MacColl.)

~ Becky in Tucson