We can see the soothing effects of some kinds of music by looking way back into Old Testament times. In I Samuel 16 we see the young shepherd David being called to calm King Saul by playing his harp. Few would argue about the worth of a lullaby in lulling a little one into sweet, quiet slumber.
Lullabies and rocking seem to be partners in getting a little child to drop off to sleep. The lullaby I remember hearing most frequently throughout my life is “Rock-a-bye Baby.” It’s not really my favorite. The lyrics say, “When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall—And down will come baby, cradle and all.” Hmmm. Could the baby avoid serious injury when falling from a tree top? That lullaby might not be so comforting if the baby understood what the words meant. From the americansongwriter.com website I discovered that it’s widely believed that the first printed appearance of “Rock-a-bye Baby” was in Mother Goose’s Melody in 1765, with the lyrics thought to begin with “Hush-a-bye Baby.”
There are other familiar lullabies you may have heard, or maybe have even sung to a wee one yourself. The pampers.com website provides origins, lyrics, and the potential of “25 Lullabies and Bedtime Songs.” For many of the lullabies and songs, it provides videos. Some that I thought of fondly were “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” “Cradle Song” (Braham’s Lullaby that begins with “Lullaby and good night”), “Hush, Little Baby,” “All the Pretty Little Horses,” and “All Through the Night.” Not that I could sing more than one line of them, other than “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” That website and others list some songs with sweet melodies that I hadn’t really thought of as possible lullabies. I’d never thought of singing “Amazing Grace” as a lullaby.
When looking for information on the positive effects of lullabies, I was surprised to find such an abundance of websites discussing the subject. According to the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center website, “music is hard-wired in our brains at an early age. The ability to process music appears in specialized areas of the brain during the first few months after birth.” What a great gift God gave us! I sometimes thank God for the incredible gift of music.
The same website states three main benefits of singing lullabies:
- There is scientific proof that lullabies help babies fall asleep.
- Lullabies “stimulate language and cognitive development”.
- Lullabies can make the bond of a parent and their child stronger. The science.com website confirms the scientific proof of the calming effect of lullabies. It tells us that a baby’s pulse rate and blood pressure are raised if they are startled or feel anxious. Singing a lullaby quickly brings a baby’s blood pressure back down.
The Frontenac News website assures us that even if a lullaby is sung off-key, the child can still feel the calmness of the parent. Their website explains that the reasons lullabies are valuable in teaching language are that they slow down the words, repeat them, and let them be heard at a higher pitch friendly to tiny ear canals and eardrums. [Of course, some of the melodic songs that were not designed to be lullabies, such as “Amazing Grace,” don’t have the word repetition that is one of the factors in helping to teach language. Humming a tune won’t help language skills, but it will still have a soothing effect and help create a bond.]
The Northeast Ohio Parent website informs us that by 25 weeks of pregnancy, the fully formed ears of the baby can hear sounds outside the womb. It tells us that the mother’s voice and tone can begin emotional attachment, and a lullaby that becomes familiar before birth may assist a newborn in falling asleep.
Recently a lullaby I couldn’t remember having heard before came up on my computer, but I discovered that it had been sung in the Peter Pan movie. The version of this lullaby that came up on my computer was an endearing video made by Sounds Like Reign, and it inspired this article. I will share it with you below.
Videos played after the below video do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the post’s author.
I still remember the comfort from my grandmas rhythmic humming when we rocked in her chair. I hummed the same with my children when they were toddlers. I hummed it near my adult son’s ear when he was in the process of dying .