Lullaby Time

Singing lullabies to young children seems to be something hardwired into our brains.  While I don’t have any specific memories of my own mother singing me to sleep, I do remember when my then-baby sister was moved out of her crib and into the king-sized bed with me and my middle sister that I would sing her to sleep.  That continued until I moved off to college eight years later.  I also did a lot of babysitting during my teen years, and again found a song to be a good way to calm a fussy child.  Years later, when I had my own children, it became a much-looked-forward-to  part of the good night ritual to sing each of them their own song at night when I tucked them into bed. 

But I rarely used conventional lullabies.  Our repertoire included silly children’s songs (Little Bunny Foo Foo, The Ants Go Marching), show tunes (Songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella were a hit with my kids as was The Ugly Duckling from Hans Christian Anderson), church hymns and even Christmas carols. 

What brought this subject to mind today is a scene I was writing in my current work in progress.  It’s a historical set in 1893 Texas.  My hero, a small town lawman, is in the middle of nowhere watching over a sick little girl while he waits for help (in the form of our heroine, natch).  The child is fretful and he’s not used to being around kids so he’s feeling a bit desperate.  The he remembers a lullaby his mother used to sing to him when he was little and begins to sing it to her.  

At first I tried to do a bit of research into what sort of lullabies would have been popular in this time period.  Then I decided I’d have the song be one his mother made up, which gave me freedom to make up the words myself.  I actually had a lot of fun working on this.  I hope you’ll like what I came up with, assuming it makes the final cut .   


So what about you?  Do you have a favorite lullaby?  Or perhaps special memories associated with lullabies?

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

23 thoughts on “Lullaby Time”

  1. Good morning Winnie, nice post. My favorite lullaby is the Skye Boat Song. ‘Tho’ the waves leap, soft be your sleep, Ocean’s a royal bed’. The words are sheer poetry, and the melody is beautiful too.

  2. I would always sing my children songs about THEM…silly made up songs, even when they were older.

    Isn’t it interesting that even when there are no words, we will still hum and make or play music to our children when we want to put them to sleep?

    Love when a hero is brought to their knees by a sick child…can’t wait to read it!

    Peace, Julie

  3. I liked Peter, Paul abd Mary’d GONE THE RAINBOW which is a variation of An Irish folk song. Also called JONNY’S GONE FOR A SOLDIER and a few gaelic names I don’t know. I used it as a lullaby with the babies I babysat and with my children and grandchildren.
    It is a soothing song to sing and works well as a lullaby, but is sad if you listen to the lyrics.

  4. Lovely lyrics, Winnie. I hope it makes the cut for the book!

    I remember falling asleep to my mother humming. She always has music running through her. The other alternative was J.S. Bach string recordings. To this day, I fall asleep if an orchestra plays Bach. 😀

  5. Winnie, I can’t remember my mother singing to me but I do remember how she used to sing while she worked. Her favorites were lovely old hymns. And I didn’t sing to my children much because I was too afraid my screeching would frighten them. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. I sound worse than a screech owl warning of danger.

    You did a fantastic job of making up a lulluby. It’s so sweet and would lull a child right to sleep.

    One lulluby that’s been around for along time is Hush Little Baby. Don’t know if that’s the correct title. Something about a mockingbird and diamond ring and looking glass among other things. Other than that, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star comes to mind.

    Interesting blog.

  6. Sorry I’m late responding today – been on the road this morning (or in the air I should say 🙂 ) traveling from the ACFW conference in Indianapolis. Had a FABULOUS time, but it’s good to be home again. Now let’s see what everyone had to say…

  7. Jennie, I’d never heard Sky Boat Song before so I went over to youtube and found a couple of clips. Lovely, LOVELY song – it would make a wonderful lullaby

    Julie, how wonderful that you made up songs for your children – it must have given them some sweet memories to cherish

  8. Patricia – I hadn’t thought about Gone The Rainbow in years. Used to love Peter, Paul & Mary and still have several of their albums. But you’re right – if you listen to the words it is so sad and tragic

    Phyliss – Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post

  9. Tracy – Thanks for the kind words about my lyrics and LOL on falling asleep when an orchestra performs Bach.

    Linda – Oh my yes, how could I forget Hush Little Baby. I used to sing that one to my kids as well. Only thing is, once I got past the mokcingbird, diamond ring and looking glass I couldn’t remember the rest, so I just made up things that rhymed. Sometimes that particular song would go on and on if we got really wound up 🙂

  10. Hi Winnie, my mom sang us lullabies but they were silly made-up ones. And I admit to doing the same with my grandson LOL. It’s a totally dopey song about “cat-naps and puppy-naps.”

    Cool blog and song. oxoxxo

  11. what a fun post winnie!
    takes me back to my momma singing to me
    she always sang hush little baby don’t say a word/mocking bird one
    i like your lullaby–you should have included audio of you singing it so we knew the tune 🙂
    the words are great
    better than many lullaby’s that are a little scary….like rock a bye baby where the child falls out of the tree!

    i love the all the pretty little horses one

    Hush-a-bye don’t you cry,
    Go to sleep-y, little baby.
    When you wake you shall have
    All the pretty little horses.
    Blacks and bays, dapple grays,
    Coach and six white horses. (i didn’t know this line)
    Hush-a-bye don’t you cry,
    Go to sleep-y, little baby.

  12. Tabitha – LOL you definitely wouldn’t want to hear me sing.
    And I’d never heard of All The Pretty Little Horses – just went over to youtube to give it a listen. Very sweet! Wish I’d known this song when my children were little – my youngest was always fascinated by horses and would have loved this one

  13. Great blog, Winnie! Talk about touching a deep emotional chord.

    My Mom used to sing one called “Bye-o bye-o baby.” It mainly just repeated those words to a very pretty tune. My Dad loved to rock babies and sing the Teaddybears’ Picnic. He’d always slow down at the end, “At six o’clock their Mommy’s and Daddy’s will take them home to bed, because they’re tired little teddy bears.”

  14. When my oldest daughter was in college she called to ask why she would know all the words to the hymn ‘In the Garden’ which made me chuckle. She said she never remembered knowing it but when the professor challenged them to write down as much of a hymn as they could in class one day she immediatly began writing this hymn. As a baby she would start crying about 11 pm and cry most of the night. I would rock her and sing this hymn….over and over and over. The more she would cry the faster I would rock and the louder I would sing. We finally found her allergy that was giving her severe stomach pains and I no longer had to stay up all night with her so we both had forgotten until that professor unlocked her memory.

  15. Love your lyrics, Winnie. When my dad was in the Navy many years ago, my mom and my baby sister and I lived with my grandparents. It was my grandfather who sang me to sleep at night, loved his voice. The song went “Goodnight, sweet dreams, tomorrow’s another day…” Never heard the song anyplace else until a few years ago when I heard Desi Arnaz sing it on a rerun of the Lucy show. (!)

  16. Connie – Oh, that’s one of my very favorite old hymns. Thanks for reminding me of it today. And isn’t it wondrous how our memories form even at that very young age.

    Elizabeth – oh another new-to-me lullabye. I found an old clip of this one on youtube. It’s so sweet to picture a grandfather singing this to his granddaughter.

  17. Remember the old lyrics that I think went like this:
    Rock a bye Baby in the Treetop;
    When the wind blows the cradle will rock.
    When the bow breaks the cradle will fall;
    Down will come baby, cradle, and all.
    I remember singing this song many times years ago and now it sounds a little scary!!!

  18. Tretha – Oh I most definitely remember that one. Funy thing is, I didn’t think about how scary those lyrics were when I was a kid – it was only later when I was a parent that it struck me how unsuitable it was for a children’s lullaby

  19. Winnie,
    Sorry I didn’t get over here until now! I loved your post. My mom always sang to us–she and her sisters performed “back in the day” and she loved to sing. One of the songs she sang was called “Baby’s Boat”
    Baby’s boat’s a silver moon
    Sailing in the sky
    Sail baby sail, out upon the sea
    Only don’t forget to sail back again to me.
    There’s a lot more to it and I know I left out some lines, but this was one I remember. Also I remember her singing so many other songs, some lullbyes and some not.
    I used to sing to my kids, and we had several tapes that they’d listen to to go to sleep–Gordon Lightfoot, Peter Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio, Simon and Garfunkle. The Eagles. LOL I think my son was the only 3 year old who knew ever Don Henley song. LOL
    Great post!

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