We all know the usual lullabies, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Rock A-Bye Baby, and even Brahms Lullaby, but there comes a point when we all need change, or at least I do. Do you remember when you played a CD over and over and over again taking it from the “love it” list to the “I’m so sick of it” list? Consider this an opportunity to add some new tracks to your bedtime repertoire and perhaps you can offer up your favourites in the comments so I can change my playlist as well.
The reason I love these songs is that they tell a story and have a really excellent melody. Any song can be a lullaby if you just slow it down and sing it gently to your little one. My husband likes to sing Beatles tunes to our little guy, in fact the first song he sang to him was “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and has kept using it because it works for him. Remember how Ross and Rachel sang “Baby Got Back” to get Emma to laugh? Whatever works!
Each example I have included is just that, an example. I’ve chosen them based upon the clarity of the melody and sometimes the lyrics. Remember that any speed or wording you use is good. You’re singing to your child and they’ll love it whether you feel you can’t carry a tune in a bucket or you’re the next pop sensation!
The Fox (Went Out on a Chilly/Stormy Night)
My mother sang this to me and I vividly remember rocking my younger brother to sleep and my 8 year old brain trying to remember all of the verses. Now, I have them memorized as this is a favourite of my 3 month old. A traditional English Ballad from the Middle Ages, The Fox takes us on a journey finding food for his family. And like any good classic story from long ago, there is a little gore involved (we’re only talking a poultry slaying)… but the melody is great!
The Fox Lyrics
The Fox Audio Example
Skye Boat Song
Calling all Outlander fans! And helloooo Jamie Fraser! The theme song of this wildly popular show uses this Traditional Scottish Folk Song, just with different lyrics. If you’ve read the Outlander books or watched the series on television, you’ll recognize the story that the original ballad tells of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Battle of Culloden. Again, some tragic parts… but the melody is lovely!
Traditional Audio Example
Outlander Audio Version
Song for the Mira
As my son* is what Cape Bretoners call a Half Caper meaning that his Dad is from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and I am from ‘away’. I sing him this song a lot as the Mira River is a place that he’ll learn to love just like I have. This beautiful piece is one that I learned in school and perhaps you did as well. And if you’re wondering, all the lyrics are true! I’ve seen and experienced them all first hand.
Song for the Mira Lyrics
Song for the Mira Audio Example
This one takes some practise with the lyrics. I cut and pasted them into the notes app in my phone and set it up beside me when we’d sing so I could reference them quickly. It will keep your brain engaged so you don’t fall asleep before your little one – I’ve done that far too many times to count! Another somewhat tale of hardship is told through these lyrics but if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m more inclined to pick melody over content. Known as Australia’s unofficial national anthem, the story is of a wanderer who runs from the law.
Waltzing Matilda Lyrics
Waltzing Matilda Audio Example
I hope you’ve found these examples either inspiring or at the least interesting. I encourage you to find new songs to sing to and with your children as they will love the time they spend making music with you! Please let me know what’s on your lullaby playlist as I’m in need of some fresh ideas myself. (I wasn’t kidding when I said I sang myself to sleep!)