minstrel: Lullabyes

Lisa and Ken Theriot lnktheriot at home.com
Thu Sep 28 08:55:05 PDT 2000

Vivien wrote:

<I might suggest looking at collections of carols.  Many of them, such as 
the Coventry Carol have a lullay chorus.>

Indeed.  My favorite version of Corpus Christi, from a 15th century 
manuscript, has the chorus:
Lully, lully, lully, lulley
The faucon hath born my make away.

The problem is, what was considered comforting in the middle ages is not 
what we consider a comfort today.  I mean, the verses of Corpus Christi are 
all about a knight bleeding to death on his bed, and I bet few mothers want 
to sing that to their children, especially before bed.  I suppose the idea 
was that suffering gave you something in common with Christ, and therefore 
your soul, which was of much greater import to the medieval mind than the 
body, was all the safer.

The Coventry Carol is the worst offender; people who like it have generally 
never sung past verse one.  It's actually from a passion play, and it was 
sung by the mothers of Galilee putting their children to bed for the last 
time, knowing that Herod's soldiers were coming to slay them horribly in 
the morning.  I don't even sing it during advent, let alone to sleeping 

Even the Jacobite lullaby Lady Anne Bothwell's Lament boils down to, "Well, 
I'm ticked off at your father, but that hardly matters because he's 
horribly dead, so stop crying because you're all I have left."   Lady 
Nairne's (1766-1845) Cradle Song is about the oldest song I know that is 
(almost) completely comforting (she mentions that she's worried because 
Daddy has gone to sea, but at least he's not already horribly dead).


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