Tag Archives: lullaby

A La Rorro Niño – Lullaby

Informant: this is a song my mom used to sing me when I was little:

A la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, duérmete Mi Niño, duérmete mi amor;

a la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, que viniste al mundo sólo por mi amor.

Esos tus ojitos ya los vas cerrando,

pero estás mirando todos mis delitos.

A la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, duérmete Mi Niño, duérmete mi amor;

a la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, que viniste al mundo sólo por mi amor.

Por cuna te ofrezco mi fiel corazón,

pues no lo merezco, te pido perdón.

A la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, duérmete Mi Niño, duérmete mi amor;

a la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, que viniste al mundo sólo por mi amor.

Quisiste por nombre llamarte Jesús,

como padre amante tú me diste luz.

A la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, duérmete Mi Niño, duérmete mi amor;

a la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, que viniste al mundo sólo por mi amor.

En el crudo invierno Mi Dios y Señor,

que sufres alegre del frío y su rigor.

A la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, duérmete Mi Niño, duérmete mi amor;

a la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, que viniste al mundo sólo por mi amor.

La gloria te cantan angélicas voces,

para que te duermas y del sueño goces.

A la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, duérmete Mi Niño, duérmete mi amor;

a la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, que viniste al mundo sólo por mi amor.

A la rorro Niño, a la rorro ro, duérmete Mi Niño, duérmete mi amor.

Interviewer: What does it mean?

JH: that’s the thing…I don’t know how to even translate it. But it’s sorta like when you swing a baby to sleep, you know what I mean? It’s one of those things that’s just really hard to translate, so it probably doesn’t have a translation. But generally, it’s talking about religion 


JH was born in America, and her parents are from Mexico. JH is very fond of this song because her mother used to sing it to her when she was a child. This story was collected over a phone call.


This song goes to show how religion can be a great source of comfort. Listening to the song, it has such a sweet quality that is, of course, reminiscent of a lullaby; it’s interesting that across cultures, lullabies always have a similar quality, no matter the content. They are always happy and light. I think that this is important because it speaks to the fact that the moods that music elicit are similar no matter who you are or where you are––as people often say, music the universal language.

(To hear the song, please see this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12aiZ42gV2Y&t=49s)

Mexican lullaby

Main piece: 

“Sana, sana, colita de rana, si no sana hoy, sanara manana” 


Heal, heal, tail of frog, yes no heal today, healthy tomorrow

Full translation: 

Heal, heal, tail of frog, if today it doesn’t heal, it will tomorrow

Background: The one who provided this lullaby was my sister a while back when hurting my younger cousin on accident. My sister was born in LA and she goes to school in Downey. Her spanish isn’t good, or even decent, but somehow she knows this song well. According to her, it stuck because “it’s catchy” and because apparently I would sing this same lullaby to her when I hurt her. 

Context: We were playing basketball in the driveway. It was my sister and my two cousins. And somehow my sister bodied into my younger cousin who’s underweight and knocked her to the ground. She’s currently 12 but she scraped her elbow pretty bad and wanted to cry. That would not have been good news for either my sister or me so my sister sang the lullaby and massaged her arm and my cousin laughed a little and then stopped any potential crying. 

Thoughts: This a fun one because I honestly don’t know what a frog’s tail has to do with healing a wound or bruise. I asked my sister who was my informant in this case, but she didn’t know either. 

Maybe a frog’s tail has luck and it’ll help heal a bruise quicker? But what I did notice from this experience, and even from my own experience, was that it’s funny to the victim. It makes them laugh, or chuckle at least, and eases the pain and tension. So it’s a helpful tool if someone gets hurt and wants to cry. 

Red River Valley Folk song (lullaby)

Context: Context: SF is a USC sophomore studying journalism and he’s also my classmate in Anthropology class. I decided to have a zoom meeting with him and talk about some folklore from vermont. 

YM: Tell me some folklore 

SF: My mom use to sing a lullaby that her pops sang to her 

YM: Let’s hear it, how does it ? 

SF: Down in the valley, valley so low

Hang your head over, hear the wind blow  

Hear the wind blow blow 

Hear the wind blow

Hang your head over, hear the wind blow  

YM: Aww thats nice, do you know where it comes from ?

SF:I think it’s from the south west.. It’s definitely a folk song

YM: Does it have a name ?

SF: Yeah it’s called Red River Valley

YM: Awesome

Background info: SF was born and raised in Vermont. He’s from Irish, Scotish and German descent  and for the first years of his life his mom sang him a folk song to go to sleep. 

Analysis: This sounds like a typical soothing lullaby one would sing to a baby. It also runs in the family, SF’s mother who sang it to him used to hear it from her father and I imagine he also heard it from a parent. After having done some research this is a folk song  that goes by two names: Down in the valley, and Birmingham Jail. The song is an american folk song and a ballad. It’s interesting that this was passed down as a lullaby in SF’s family. The origin of the song is said to come from a Guitarist named Jimmie Tarlton who was incarcerated in an Alabama jail in 1925. Like all folk songs, the lyrics are sometimes changed depending on the artist that decides to record. For examples instead of using, “Hang your head over, hear the wind blow, “ artists have used, “Late in the evening hear the train blow.”  ****

For another version of this song, please visit, https://www.balladofamerica.org/down-in-the-valley/

I Love A Lassie


I Love A Lassie

“I love a lassie, a bonnie bonnie lassie, 

She’s as pure as a lily in the dell, 

She’s sweet as the heather, the bonnie bloomin’ heather,

Mary, my Scots bluebell.”

“[I Love A] Lassie is a lullaby that a lot of Scottish girls heard growing up.  We’d sing it to the boys too, but for some reason it was more of a girl’s song.  It’s very romantic and uplifting, which I believe a lot of our lullabies are.  We’d  sing it to girls when we wanted them to go to sleep.  I had no daughters, but I’d sing it to my granddaughters when I rocked them in my arms.”


This informant, MS, comes from Aberdeen, Scotland and has lived there for all of her life, except for a few years she spent in London.   She’s from the silent generation and has grown up with children around her for a lot of her life.  She also knows this song from when her mother would sing it to her, as well, she remembers it from hearing it in the schoolyard and local playdate-like meetings with her friends growing up.


I invited MS, my great grandmother, to talk with me after a family reunion zoom call.  A few days later, we got together and we live streamed a rerun of Strictly Come Dancing over zoom and during the commercial breaks, we talked over some  folklore from her life in Scotland, specifically from her childhood in Aberdeen.


It’s strange to think a romantic song could be a lullaby because it’s not meant for people in romances, but instead, children.  I think this song represents a Scottish romanticism we don’t see portrayed in the media all the time.  It stands for this idealized woman, so it’s interesting that it is sung to girls instead of boys.  Boys may relate to the desire of the image more, but I believe there might be a sense of describing what a woman should be like to little girls so that they can grow up to be “Mary, my Scot’s bluebell”.

Anti-Lullaby to Children

“Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll eat some worms. Short fat skinny ones, itty-bitty little ones, guess I’ll eat some worms.”

Context: The song was originally preformed by the mother of the collector when her child said that she was having difficulties making friends with children during elementary school. The collection is taken from a later date when asked to recite the song.

Informant Analysis Below:

The informant had grown up switching many schools, about 11, during her time from elementary through high school. She noted that because of moving around so much she often had difficulty making strong friendships. This song seemed to encapsulate the self-pity she once had as a child, and how she learned to become less emotional about such things.

Informant: “I honestly don’t remember when I first heard it, but I know it was definitely while I was still a child. It’s possible my mom also sang that to me too.”

Collector: “Do you have any idea of what it means?”

Informant: “I think it is saying, like, who cares if you feel unliked. Be stronger than that. The whole eating worms thing, to me, is saying that if you are gonna whine about not having friends, might as well eat worms while you are at it because the world does not care.”

Collector Analysis: Lullabies in themselves are supposed to be calming and reassuring to a child. This lullaby is rather odd because it does no such task. It seems to point out any amount of self-pity one may have for themselves and make light of it. In doing so, it can be seen as “tough love” and harsh in many ways. The concept of not being liked is a very common fear, not just for children, but for adults too. Perhaps when told to a child it not only is meant to teach children to “toughen up”, but also remind the adult to do the same. I believe this piece also has a lot to do with the drives in American culture of being self-sufficient. Starting at a young age, it would make sense to instill a sense of individualism by not caring what others think onto a child.

Chinese Poem: Bai ri yi shan jing

  1. The main piece: Chinese Poem

Original Script:

白日依山尽, 黄河入海流。

欲穷千里目, 更上一层楼。


Bai ri yi shan jing

Huang he ru hai liu

Yu qiong qian li mu

Geng shang yi ceng lou

  1. Background information about the performance from the informant: why do they know or like this piece? Where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them? Context of the performance?

“I learned this poem in Chinese school many, many years ago. I don’t even really know what it means. I mean, I kind of know. Um, I can translate it word for word. The sun goes up in the morning, and the Yellow River, which is actually the name of the river—something about the river flowing. And then…hmm…I’m not really sure what that last part means.

“It has something to do with thinking and observing nature. That’s what most songs and poems are about. There are a lot of songs about Mao too. And communist ideals in general, like being a good citizen, working hard, um. And like waking up in the morning and saluting.”

  1. Finally, your thoughts about the piece

The meaning of this poem elucidates the concepts that are considered vital and peaceful in Chinese society. It incorporates one of the two main rivers in China into a peaceful-sounding children’s poem about nature—this indoctrinates nationalistic ideas into children as early as possible, and gives the message that the most beautiful and serene place is the nation itself. The fact that most poems that are not about nature are about Mao Zedong or communist ideals shows just how much vernacular poems and children’s lessons are used to build nationalistic ideals from the very start of a person’s life.

  1. Informant Details

The informant is an 18-year old Chinese-American female. While she grew up in the southern California area, she spent more time with her grandparents than her parents growing up, and felt that learning their Chinese traditions and language was the main way she bonded with them, while her younger sister never had that experience because her parents were out of school by then.

For another version of this poem, see http://anakoinosis.com/readingattic/?p=305.

Ukranian Lullaby

Main Piece: Ukrainian Lullaby

Ніч яка місячна, зоряна, ясная! / Видно, хоч голки збирай. / Вийди, коханая, працею зморена, / Хоч на хвилиночку в гай.
Сядем укупочці тут під калиною – / І над панами я пан! / Глянь, моя рибонько, – срібною хвилею / Стелиться полем туман.
Гай чарівний, ніби променем всипаний, / Чи загадався, чи спить: / Ген на стрункій та високій осичині / Листя пестливо тремтить.

Небо незміряне всипане зорями, / Що то за Божа краса! / Перлами ясними попід тополями / Грає краплиста роса.

Ти не лякайся, що ніженьки босії / Вмочиш в холодну росу: / Я тебе, вірная, аж до хатиноньки / Сам на руках піднесу.
Ти не лякайся, що змерзнеш, лебедонько, / Тепло – ні вітру, ні хмар… / Я пригорну тебе до свого серденька, / А воно палке, як жар.


Nich yaka misyachna, zoryana, yasnaya! / Vydno, khoch holky zbyray. / Vyydy, kokhanaya, pratseyu zmorena, / Khoch na khvylynochku v hay.
Syadem ukupochtsi tut pid kalynoyu – / I nad panamy ya pan! / Hlyanʹ, moya rybonʹko, – sribnoyu khvyleyu / Stelytʹsya polem tuman.
Hay charivnyy, niby promenem vsypanyy, / Chy zahadavsya, chy spytʹ: / Hen na strunkiy ta vysokiy osychyni / Lystya pestlyvo tremtytʹ.
Nebo nezmiryane vsypane zoryamy, / Shcho to za Bozha krasa! / Perlamy yasnymy popid topolyamy / Hraye kraplysta rosa.
Ty ne lyakaysya, shcho nizhenʹky bosiyi / Vmochysh v kholodnu rosu: / YA tebe, virnaya, azh do khatynonʹky / Sam na rukakh pidnesu.
Ty ne lyakaysya, shcho zmerznesh, lebedonʹko, / Teplo – ni vitru, ni khmar… / YA pryhornu tebe do svoho serdenʹka, / A vono palke, yak zhar.


Oh night which is moonlight, starlit, clear! / So visible, you can collect needles. / Come out, my exhausted love, / For a minute into the garden.

Let’s sit together here under this rose bush / I am their master / Look my darling, a silver wave / The fog rolls onto the field.

So magical, as if powdered by rays / Or lost in thought, asleep / The wind above the thin and tall oak tree / the leaves gently shakes.

The sky is innumerably sprinkled with stars, / What Godly beauty! / Visible under the poplars / plays the mottled dew.

Don’t be afraid that your bare legs / will become wet from the cold dew; / I, my loyal, all the way to the house / in my arms will carry.

Don’t be afraid that you will freeze, my dear, / It is warm- not a breeze, not a cloud… / I will hold you close to my heart / It is hot, like a fever.


Background Information:

  • Why does informant know this piece?

Her mother sang it to her when she was a baby / small child.

  • Where did they learn this piece?

The Soviet Union, Kiev, Ukraine.

  • What does it mean to them?

It is a sweet, calming song that reminds her of her home and culture.



  • Where?

Usually sung in a dark bedroom.

  • When?

This song is often sung night.

  • Why?

It is meant to help a child fall asleep.


Personal Thoughts:

My mother also sang me this song, as did my grandmother. It is a very calming, haunting song that calls back to old Ukraine before the Soviet Union. Often times people skip different couplets of the song depending on if they like them or not. This song also appears in a few Soviet era films, such as “В бой идут одни старики” which can be translated as “Only Old Men Go To War”.

To hear this song in the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONsgbw_VLms

Bykov, Leonid, director. Only Old Men Are Going to Battle. Dovzhenko Film Studios, 1974.


Spanish Lullaby

Background Information: Shawn Barnes is a Junior at college, and his family is Mexican on his mother’s side. I interviewed him about a Spanish lullaby that he remembers his mother singing to him at night as a child.

Original (Spanish):

“A la roro niño

A lo roro ya

Duérmete mi niño

Duérmete mi amor.

Este niño lindo

Que nació de mañana,

Quiere que lo lleven

A pasear en carcacha.

Este niño lindo

Que nació de día

Quiere que lo lleven

A la dulcería

Este niño

Que nació de noche

Quiere que lo lleven

A pasear en coche.

Este niño lindo

Se quiere dormir,

Y el pícaro sueño

No quiere venir.

Este niño lindo

Que nació de noche

Quiere que lo lleven

A pasear en coche.”


“Lullaby baby

Lullaby now.

Sleep my baby,

Sleep my love.

This pretty baby

Who was born in the morning,

Wants to be taken

For a jalopy ride.

This sweet baby

Who was born during the day,

Wants to be taken

To the candy shop.

This pretty baby

Who was born at night,

Wants to be taken

For a stroller ride.

This pretty baby

Wants to sleep

But the naughty sleep

Doesn’t want to come.

This pretty baby

Who was born at night,

Wants to be taken

For a stroller ride.

Shawn: “So, it’s a way to like, put a child to sleep and then say all these good things about them. And then oftentimes my mom would like to rush it a little bit, because I’d go like, ‘Mom can you sing “La Roro”, and so she’d just like rush through one verse and say ‘se acabó’, or like “it’s over, go to sleep.” But like, I still remember her tucking me in and it was sort of a cute thing.”

Thoughts: Lullabies are interesting, and I have found that they often stick in people’s memories, even if it is in a vague form, perhaps because they are repetitive and musical. This lullaby seems to be meant for encouraging a child to go to sleep, while also showing the child love and talking about sweet and pleasant things. Perhaps this is an attempt to ensure pleasant dreams for the child as well.

Persian Lullaby

Informant Description/ Context of performance: This is a lullaby that was sung to my friend every night when she was a child. Her mom and dad sang it to her and her little sister; her grandma sang it to her mother.



Gonjeeshkakeh ashi mashee

Labebooyeh mah nashee

Baroon meyad tam meeshee

Barf meeyad gooleh meeshee

Meeyoftee too hoseh nagashee


Daret meeyareh

Havash bashee

Booset mekoneh va looset meekoneh, va paret meedeh ashi mashee



Little sparrow, little sparrow

Don’t land on my rooftop edge

It’s going to rain and you’ll get wet

It’s going to snow and you’ll turn into a snow ball

And you’ll slip into the painted piscine


The groundskeeper will pull you out

The doctor will cuddle you

The mediator will kiss you and spoil you and let you FLY!


Conclusion (written by Interviewer):

I found this lullaby very interesting and different from most other lullabies. For example, most well-known lullabies like “Go to Sleep Little Baby” have lyrics about going to sleep or falling asleep. This lullaby is very soothing and light in its tone and performance; however, its literal translation has nothing to do with falling asleep. The song is about comforting the listener, which begs the question – did it actually originate with the intention of being a lullaby? It seems like it could be a child’s song, not necessarily a lullaby.

Dodo, L’Enfant Do


My informant is a twenty-one year old student at USC; she’s studying neuroscience with an eye towards medical school. Her father is Laotian and French and her mother is French.


“Dodo, l’enfant do

L’enfant dormira bien vite

Dodo, l’enfant do

L’enfant dormira bientôt

Une poule blanche

Est là dans la grange

Qui va faire un petit coco

Pour l’enfant qui va fair dodo

Dodo, l’enfant do

L’enfant dormira bien vite

Dodo, l’enfant do

L’enfant dormira bientôt

Tout le monde est sage

Dans le voisinage

Il est l’heure d’aller dormir

Le sommeil va bientôt venir.

My mom used to sing it to me. I think hers did too.”

ENGLISH: Sleep, baby, sleep/the baby falls asleep/sleep, baby, sleep/the baby will sleep soon; a white chicken/is in the barn/making a little egg/for the baby who goes to sleep; Sleep, baby, sleep/the baby falls asleep/sleep, baby, sleep/the baby will sleep soon; everyone is calm/all around/it’s time to sleep/sleep is coming soon.


This is an adorable piece of folklore, and one that has understandably withstood the tests of time. The lyrics and tune are quite simple; simple enough that, years and years later, people can still remember the song as it was sung to them and pass it on to their children.