> Folk Music > Songs > Changeling’s Lullaby

Changeling’s Lullaby

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 133606 ; words Gavin Davenport, tune Jess Arrowsmith]

Crucible sang Changeling’s Lullaby, written by their own Gavin Davenport and Jess Arrowsmith, in 2003 on their WildGoose CD Changeling. They noted:

The belief in changelings is historically widespread in Northern Europe: where a previously ‘normal’ child was believed to be stolen by fairies and a mute, deformed or sickly and bawling fairy baby left as a substitute. Belief in changelings has been used to justify everything from forced baptism of children and adults to infanticide, abuse and maltreatment of children whose development of physical form didn’t meet their parents’ or community’s expectation. This song started as a fairly bleak and random thought of Gavin’s on whether some of the mythology of the Changeling had a link to women’s experience of Post Natal Depression (on which he says he’s no expert!) and he managed to get a song out of it. Jess wrote the tune and sings it here.

Lady Maisery sang The Changeling’s Lullaby in 2011 on their CD Weave & Spin. They noted:

This is the first song we ever sang as a trio! A changeling was thought to be a fairy child left as a substitute for a baby who had been stolen by the fairies. References to changelings can be found in folklore from all over Europe and it is now thought that they may have been an early way of coping with infant disability or post-natal depression.

This YouTube video shows Lady Maisery singing The Changeling’s Lullaby in Stannington on 8 October 2011:


Lady Maisery sing The Changeling’s Lullaby

My bairn was often silent and did sleep through half the night.
And he greeted me every morning with a smile so full of light,
But now you are much altered and do bawl the whole night through,
So hush a while, my darling, so I might know it’s you.

Chorus (after each verse):
Hush awhile, hush awhile, sleep now for me.
Lay yourself softly if my babe you be,
Or did some fay creeping from your crib steal you sleeping
And leave me a creature that’s nothing of me?

Your skin was like the lily fair, as soft as winter snow,
Not like some screaming devil with his scarlet face aglow
Who wails across the wind’s soft sighs that creep the casement through,
So hush a while, my darling, so I might know it’s you.

Your father says you’re not his own nor any child of man’s,
But I think you have your father’s smile, your father’s gentle hands,
And I pray that you will love me like your father used to do,
So hush awhile, my darling, so I might know it’s you.

If your other couldn’t love you, though a fairy babe you be,
I would take you to the forest and I’d leave you ’neath yon tree,
But while you are all I have, love, yet I still will cleave to thee,
For whatever else you are, love, still your mother’s love you be.