The Celtic Lullaby ,. Available available from Ellipsis Arts. Please phone 800-788-6670 for further details or to request a catalogue..
‘The Celts have no lullabies; they are too warlike.’ Jill Rogoff uses this quote by 19th-century English poet A.P. Graves to introduce a collection of music that effectively disproves Graves’ hasty generalization. CELTIC LULLABIES is a beautiful compilation of 18 songs from Ireland, the Isle of Man, Nova Scotia, Scotland, and Wales.
Although the Celts were known for their aggressive, often bellicose behaviour, they also possessed a tender, poetic nature that, although rarely expressed, communicates the deepest longings of the Celtic spirit. What better medium to express such emotions than a simple lullaby.
Many of the songs in the collection are sung in the original Irish, Manx, Scottish, or Welsh Gaelic, which enhances the lullabies’ calming, almost mesmerising quality. English translations, provided in the accompanying booklet, prove that the lyrics, in contrast to the lullabie’s simple melodies, often deal with complex universal issues. In ‘Hush Ye, My Bairnie’, a poignant Scottish lullaby, a mother sings to quiet her child whose father is away on one of the Highland cattle-raids that claimed the lives of many Scottish fathers and husbands. The mother prepares herself to accept a similar fate for her son:
Hush ye, my bairnie,
Bonny wee laddie,
When you’re a man
You shall follow your daddy
But despite its sadness, this song, like all of the lullabies, still evokes images of sleep and peace, whether through music or lyrics. In this sense, the collection can serve a dual audience, providing both a soothing background for a sleepy child, and a more aesthetic experience for an attentive adult.
Leigh Ann Berry