About the Christmas anthem Cradle Hymn
Cradle Hymn is gentle music, perfect for a contemplative moment in your service or concert. This setting features the soprano section, or a solo voice, with the rest of the choir singing a wordless accompaniment. The men sing the middle verse, to the very similar tune “Restoration”. The piano weaves some quiet counterpoint at the end.
Hush my babe lie still and slumber
Holy angels guard thy bed.
Heav’nly blessings without number
Gently stealing on thy head.
How much better art thou attended
Than the Son of God could be
When from heaven he descended
And became a child like thee.
Soft and easy is thy cradle,
Coarse and hard the Savior lay
When His birthplace was a stable
And His softest bed was hay.
These words are by the hymnist Isaac Watts (1674-1748). According to a web search, they are from Watts’ Song 8 from Divine and Moral Songs for Children, 1720. I found many more verses, but this setting uses the ones Seeger included, the gentle lullaby.
The two tunes of Cradle Hymn are:
- “Cradle Hymn”, from Kentucky; I found it in Ruth Crawford Seeger’s collection American Folk Songs for Christmas
- “Restoration”, from the popular 19th century collection Southern Harmony
Cradle Hymn is part of a larger cantata, Shepherds and Angels, with violin, harp, and tambourine. Instrumentally, that set aligns well with Britten’s Ceremony of Carols or Susa’s Carols and Lullabies. Teach your chorus Cradle Hymn this year, and expand to Shepherds and Angels next season.
View and listen
Preview score Click the big button to download a free perusal score. The watermarked PDF is disabled for printing.
Download “Cradle Hymn, SATB & piano, preview”pjm-cradlehymn-satb-preview.pdf – Downloaded 605 times – 299.77 KB
Listen The Master Singers of Lexington, MA sang Cradle Hymn in 2010 in the Shepherds and Angels version with violin and harp.
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