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(Dunstan) Lullaby

[ Roud 8885 , 23258 ; Ballad Index Grim100A ; VWML RVW2/3/184 ; trad.]

Roy Palmer printed Lullaby in 1983 in his book Folk Songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams. He noted:

Traditional lullabies are rare in English, though they still flourish in Gaelic-speaking parts of Britain and also in Europe. Oddly enough, the anti-soporific dandling song is much less uncommon in England. This lullaby came in 1906 from a Mr Thompson of Dunstan, Northumberland [VWML RVW2/3/184] , who had learned it from his mother fifty years previously. It was still sung by the mothers of Dunstan to their children. I wonder if it still is.

Coope Boyes Simpson sang Hush My Babe (The Dunstan Lullaby) in 1998 on their No Masters CD A Garland of Carols. This track was also included in the following year on their anthology What We Sing. They returned to this song on their 1999 CD with Wereldkoor Wak Maar Proper, Christmas Truce Kerstbestand, and on their 2008 CD with Michael Morpurgo, On Angel Wings.

The Askew Sisters sang Lullaby as a bonus track of their 2007 WildGoose CD All in a Garden Green. They noted:

Traditional lullabies are rarely found in English, but we discovered this one, which was collected by Vaughan Williams in Dunstan, Northumberland [VWML RVW2/3/184] .

Lyrics

The Askew Sisters sang Lullaby

Hush my babe lie sweet in slumber
Holy angels guard thy bed
Sweetest blessings without number
Gently fall upon thy head

Hush my babe lie sweet in slumber
Cold and hard thy Savior lay
When his birthplace was a stable
And his softest bed was clay