Brahms's Lullaby

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Brahms's Lullaby is the common English title of Johannes Brahms's "Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht" ("Lullaby: Good evening, good night"), Op. 49, No. 4, published in 1868. 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 (de) (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's 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]


Original German Literal English translation Traditional English version[5]

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.

Good evening, good night,
With roses covered,
With cloves adorned,
Slip under the covers.
Tomorrow morning, if God wills,
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.

Lullaby and goodnight,
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 goodnight,
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[6]


\relative g' 
{\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"flute" \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.[7]

Brahms' Lullaby is also commonly sung to the Hebrew words of Jacob's blessing to his grandchildren, Ephraim and Menashe, in Genesis 48:16.[8] This blessing is incorporated into the "Bedtime Shema" and has thus become a popular Jewish Lullaby (Hamalach hagoel oti...).[9]

The 1936 biographical film with Albert Florath as Johannes Brahms took its title from the opening lines of this song, Guten Abend, gute Nacht.[10]

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

Notable recordings[edit]

Film appearances[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. ^ "Brahms's Lullaby" ("Lullaby and Goodnight"),
  6. ^ "Gewürznelken", Merck's Warenlexikon (de) (1884) (in German)
    "Näglein, das", Duden Online (in German)
  7. ^ Ould, 5.
  8. ^ "Hamal'ach Hagoel" ("Wiegenlied")
  9. ^ "Hamalach Hagoel"
  10. ^ Guten Abend, gute Nacht on IMDb
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved June 22, 2017. 
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890–1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 108. ISBN 0-89820-083-0. 
  15. ^ "Frank Sinatra Discography". Retrieved June 21, 2017. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Crossland, Ken (2013). Late Life Jazz – The Life and Career of Rosemary Clooney. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-19-979857-5. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ The Essential Canon of Classical Music
  21. ^ "". Retrieved June 22, 2017. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "The Classical Good CD & DVD Guide"
  26. ^ "Gramophone Classical Good Guide"
  27. ^ "All Music Guide to Classical Music: The Definitive Guide to Classical Music"
  28. ^ Brahms Lieder, review by Richard Wigmore, Gramophone


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

External links[edit]