Thursday, February 19, 2009

Singing a benediction

A couple of years ago, I did these posts about the songs I was singing when I put Miranda to bed at night. Both by John McCutcheon, one of my favorite folk singers, Feather Bed and One Strong Arm have remained staples of our bedtime routine. A more recent favorite is the classic hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.

I'm trying to cultivate an awareness of the blessings I give to Miranda, the ways in which I can, however imperfectly, cover her with a sense of belonging and benediction, and for some reason, the songs which I sing over her at night seem to convey the right message.

And when I heard this haunting Celtic melody last month, I knew it needed to go into the rotation. Lyrics are below, or you can listen to a recording of it here on YouTube. It gently yet powerfully evokes the image of the child at her mother's breast, quietly resting. Her mother can't help but see the future when her child will go away, into the world -- but at the same time, she cherishes those precious, early moments when she can cradle this "flesh of my flesh, soul of my soul." I think back on that first year with Miranda, and how much I loved nursing her, and how quickly she's growing up, and I get teary every time I listen to it.

The lyrics and melody will take me some time to master, but I hope to be singing it over her before going to Durham in March.

Wexford Lullaby

Lulay lulay, my tiny child
Too soon you'll know the world so wild
Yes all too soon you will be grown
And I'll bide here alone, alone.

The rushing bellows you shall ride
And the light of the North Star will be your guide
But yet awhile, I'll have you stay
Lulay my tiny child, lulay.

For you shall run in meadows green
And sport with otters all in the stream
And you shall chase the dapple deer
And swim with salmon in the waters clear.

To pluck the small birds from the sky
On the tail of the South wind, you shall fly
And take the high hills for your home
Blood of my blood, bone of my bone.

The moon must sleep beyond the tree
So weep sweet maid of Galilee
The sun must rise before the cross
To dry your tears and share your loss.

The darkest hour of the starless night
Must bow to the power of the Eastern light
That heals the earth and makes us whole
Heart of my heart, soul of my soul.

And when at last your course is run
Joy of my joy, my little one
Beneath the sky you'll stand alone
Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.

Yes you shall stand on the coal-black sands
To cross o'er the waters of the Western lands
But now I have you at my breast
Lulay my sweet one, gently rest.


Janet said...

I have that song on a Loreena McKennit album. There's no way I could sing it without crying. I used to sing to William but I had to stop because he always associated singing with nursing, and I had to stop singing to wean him. It was very sad.

Janet said...

Actually it may be Nancy Griffith.