Brahms' Lullaby

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Cradle Song is the common name for a number of children's lullabies with similar lyrics, the original of which was Johannes Brahms's "Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht" ("Good evening, good night"), Op. 49, No. 4, published in 1868 and widely known as Brahms' Lullaby. The lyrics of the first verse are from a collection of German folk poems called Des Knaben Wunderhorn[1] and the second stanza was written by Georg Scherer (1824–1909) in 1849. The lullaby's melody is one of the most famous and recognizable in the world, used by countless parents to sing their babies to sleep.[2] The Lullaby was dedicated to Brahms' friend, Bertha Faber, on the occasion of the birth of her second son. Brahms had been in love with her in her youth and constructed the melody of the Wiegenlied to suggest, as a hidden counter-melody, a song she used to sing to him.[1] The lullaby was first performed in public on 22 December 1869 in Vienna by Louise Dustmann (singer) and Clara Schumann (piano).[3][4]

Lyrics[edit]


Problems playing this file? See media help.

Original German

Guten Abend, gute Nacht,
mit Rosen bedacht,
mit Näglein
[N 1] besteckt,
schlupf′ unter die Deck!
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will,
wirst du wieder geweckt.

Guten Abend, gute Nacht,
von Englein bewacht,
die zeigen im Traum
dir Christkindleins Baum.
Schlaf nun selig und süß,
schau im Traum ′s Paradies.

Literal English translation

Good evening, good night,
With roses covered,
With cloves adorned,
Slip under the covers.
Tomorrow morning, if God wants so,
you will wake once again.

Good evening, good night.
By angels watched,
Who show you in your dream
the Christ-child′s tree.
Sleep now blissfully and sweetly,
see the paradise in your dream.

Traditional English version

Lullaby and good night,
With roses bedight,
With lilies o'er spread
Is baby's wee bed.
Lay thee down now and rest,
May thy slumber be blessed.

Lullaby and good night,
Thy mother's delight,
Bright angels beside
My darling abide.
They will guard thee at rest,
Thou shalt wake on my breast.

  1. ^ "Näglein": archaic/poetic for "Nelklein" = cloves[5]

Melody[edit]


\relative g' 
{\key es \major \time 3/4 \autoBeamOff
    \partial 4 g8 g | bes4. g8 g4 | bes r g8[_( bes)] | es4 d4. c8 | c4( bes) f8[_( g)] |aes4 f f8[_( g)] | aes4 r f8[_( aes)] | d[_( c)] bes4 d | es r es,8 es | es'2 c8 aes | bes2 g8 es | aes4 bes c | \appoggiatura g8 bes2 es,8 es | es'2 c8 aes | bes2 g8 es | \afterGrace aes4( { bes16[ aes]) } g4 f | es2 \bar "|."
}
\addlyrics {
Gu -- ten A -- bend, gut’ Nacht,
mit Ro -- sen be -- dacht,
mit Näg -- lein be -- steckt,
schlupf un -- ter die Deck:
Mor -- gen früh, wenn Gott will,
wirst du wie -- der ge -- weckt,
mor -- gen früh, wenn Gott will,
wirst du wie -- der ge -- weckt.
}

Arrangements and other uses[edit]

Brahms himself used variations on the melody for much of the first movement of his Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73. In 1922, Australian pianist and composer Percy Grainger arranged the Wiegenlied as one of his "Free Settings of Favorite Melodies" for solo piano. This study was characterized by much use of suspensions and arpeggiation, with the first statement of the melody placed in the tenor range of the keyboard. This last practice was a favorite one of Grainger.[6]

Brahms' Lullaby is also commonly sung to the Hebrew words of Jacob's blessing to his grandchildren, Ephraim and Menashe, in Genesis 48:16.[7] This blessing is incorporated into the "Bedtime Shema" and has thus become a popular Jewish Lullaby (Hamalach hagoel oti...).[8]

The 1936 biographical film with Albert Florath as Johannes Brahms took its title from the opening lines of this song, Guten Abend, gute Nacht.[9]

Wendy Cope's poem "Brahms Cradle Song" refers to this song.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Swafford, Jan (1999). Johannes Brahms: A Biography. Random House of Canada. p. 338. ISBN 978-0-679-74582-2. 
  2. ^ "Brahms' Lullaby"
  3. ^ McCorkle, Margit L. (1984). Johannes Brahms. Thematisch-bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis. Munich: Henle. p. 197. ISBN 3-87328-041-8. 
  4. ^ Opus 49, Fünf Lieder für eine Singstimme und Klavier
  5. ^ "Gewürznelken", Merck's Warenlexikon (1884) (German)
    "Näglein, das", Duden Online (German)
  6. ^ Ould, 5.
  7. ^ "Hamal'ach Hagoel" ("Wiegenlied")
  8. ^ "Hamalach Hagoel"
  9. ^ Guten Abend, gute Nacht at the Internet Movie Database

Bibliography[edit]

  • Ould, Barry Peter, Notes for Hyperion CDA67279, Percy Grainger: Rambles and Reflections – Piano Transcriptions, Piers Lane, piano.

External links[edit]