Anybody know this one?

Many years ago – more than I care to remember – I belonged to the School Choir at Blackness Primary School in Dundee. I remember the music teacher (Mrs Maxwell, I think) teaching us a carol which fascinated me because it had an irregular number of beats in the bar, or at least seemed, to my limited little musical world at 8 years old, rather odd.  The words were beautiful and I remember the first verse completely – but I can’t remember any more. I’d love to know who wrote it, find a copy or even just find somebody else who knew it.

The words as I remember them are;

The cloak of sleep now wraps us round

Each small bird has sought its nest

Beasts lie still upon the ground

In my arms come take thy rest

By, by, my son, lulay.

I’ve written in Sibelius how I think the melody went – I may be slightly out on the length of notes. I may even have imagined the whole thing!! We are talking at least 47 years ago after all..

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Published in: on November 28, 2010 at 6:40 pm  Comments (10)  

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  1. My mother knows this song. She used to sing it. I haven’t heard her sing it in years, though! I should learn it. Did you ever track down the sheet music?

  2. No, sad to say I never did manage to track it down. If you find anything, let me know!

  3. I don’t know whether this will be any help (and not sure whether you’ve seen your name in this thread, Sheila) : http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=107405messages=5 but it seems to be part of “The Virgin’s Lullaby”. There’s quite a recent YouTube video song with the same title but it doesn’t seem to be it.
    However, I found some interesting references to a carol of the same title in early newspapers, where ladies have sung it to an assembled company – this being one of them: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=ODT19100709.2.34
    You’ll need to scroll most of the way down the column to find this, about 18 paragraphs up from the end:

    “At St Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday evening Mrs Martinelli-Reggiardo will sing as an offertorium “The Virgin’s Lullaby,” by Piccolomini.”

    I searched for Piccolomini and found that the song was actually written by “Henry Théodore Pontet (1833 – 1902), “The virgin’s lullaby”, published 1890, under the pseudonym Marie Piccolomini”

    This might be completely on the wrong track, but I hope that it helps to track it down.

    There are websites offering to sell the lyrics when they can get their hands on them, so it seems quite a rare song.

    Good luck! x

  4. That’s an interesting thread to follow. Thank you. The only trouble is that “Virgin’s Lullaby” is quite a common name for gentle Christmas songs. Just put those two words in Google and press Enter and you’ll see what I mean! I’ve found a copy of the one you mention for £16 but I’m reluctant to start throwing money at it if it’s not the right piece of music. Hmmm!

  5. Today so far has been wet and nasty so Stephen and I have been following up on Linda’s research. We have discovered that the piece we are looking for is by Eric H Thiman with words by Irene Gass, published in 1951.

    There is a copy in Columbia University and something in New Zealand – also mentioned on Google is Allegro Music, a warehouse music shop which I use fairly frequently because they supply large print sight-reading tests etc for Visually Impaired. I’ve sent them an email.but it looks like a trip to the Hop Pocket where this shop is to be found to see if they can help. That’s fine – we love it there. Nice Coffee Shop, Linda! plus crafts, art gallery, Hotter’s shoe shop, furniture. We frequently buy half our Christmas presents there.

    So many thanks for putting us on the right track. If and when we find it, we’ll record it and stick it on my website.

  6. You’re welcome, though the one I thought I’d found wasn’t the right one, but I’m glad if I’ve nudged you in the right direction. (Especially a direction that includes a coffee shop, ha ha!) 😀

  7. SUCCESSSSSSSS!!! We went to Allegro Music today.
    (http://allegro.co.uk)

    They had done some searching but had not found anything although they were able to tell me that the original publisher was Curwen, whose music list was taken over by Musicroom.

    Having reminded them on our arrival what it was I had been looking for, (as well as what I bought today) they decided to have a look at their previous website. And they FOUND it! An email or two or a phone call or two to Musicroom and they had been able to order a copy for me – from Germany!!

    Can’t wait for it to arrive. Thank you so much Richard and Barbara at Allegro Music for your tenacity and expertise.

  8. Wahoo! I’m so glad – you were meant to find it! 🙂

  9. I used to sing this song at school and loved it. I had a book ( must have forgotten to hand it in when I left!) with lots of lovely similar pieces in. I loaned it to someone and didn’t get it back. I would like to sing it with my Choir now but can’t find a copy. Any pointers very welcome indeed. Ann

  10. Hi Ann, It’s the Virgin’s Lullaby by Eric H Thiman, Words by Irene Gass, Published by Curwen, (their reference number is JC72243). J Curwen & sons Ltd, 29 Maiden Lane, London WC2. It’s for two-part female voices. Hope that helps!


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