What a beautiful lullaby I wish I had known before today.
I feel like a bit of a broken record, but I think my assessment that we go for the carols we know may be right. And now, not only am I sad that I never looked at this one before now, I’m sad it wasn’t in my childhood Christmas repertoire.
This is a gentle folks song – listed as simply “Hispanic” in our hymnal, but further research suggests this is a Mexican lullaby. I have no idea if the translation by John Donald Robb is accurate, as I never studied Spanish; but my study of Latin tells me it’s at least in the ballpark. Perhaps one of my Spanish-speaking readers can add their two cents? I hope the translation is close, because I find there to be a deep sadness to them – a mother wanting to protect her child, knowing the hard harsh world she has brought this child into, vowing comfort and protection in the midst of horror.
Duermete, Niño lindo,
en los brazos del amor
mientras que duerme y descansa
la pena de mi dolor.
A la ru, a la mé,
a la ru, a la mé,
a la ru, a la mé,
a la ru, a la ru,
a la mé.
No temas al rey Herodes
que nada teha de lacer;
en los brazos de tu madre y ahi’
nadie teha de ofender.
Oh, sleep now, holy baby,
with your head against my breast;
meanwhile the pangs of my sorrow
are soothed and put to rest.
You need not fear King Herod,
he will bring no harm to you;
so rest in the arms of your mother
who sings you ‘a la ru.’
In order to learn it, I went to YouTube, and I found this lovely version from the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, using a harp in the accompaniment. Enjoy!
Hi…I’ve been researching this lovely lullaby for a while. I don’t know how long ago you posted it, or who I’m sending this to. American composer Norman Dello Joio wrote a song called “The Holy Infant’s Lullaby” for a TV opera, “The Saintmaker’s Christmas Eve” in 1961/1962. I knew it was based on a Mexican lullaby because I heard it on an episode of Touched By an Angel. I watched it again just now to see if I could get the name, and I typed in the first line, and there you were! And now that I see the translation, it’s not that different….it’s posted on YouTube, either for chorus or solo voice. I’m going to look around your site now. I should have already done that, but I was so excited to find something about this song!