"Rock a Bye Baby
" is a soothing piece of melody, sung by caretakers or parents to the toddlers to lull them to sleep. It is one of the popular lullabies
, with variations in the lyrics.
Origin of Rock a Bye Baby
Various theories are associated with the origin of this popular lullaby. One of the theories suggests that the lullaby narrated a mother gently rocking her baby to sleep as if the baby were riding the treetops during a breeze; then, when the mother lowers the baby to her crib, the song says "down will come baby."
As per another theory, the rhyme was written on American soil in the seventeenth century by an English immigrant who saw on his way a native American ladies rocking their babies in birch-bark cradles, which were tied to the tree branches and suspended from them so that wind can rock the baby to sleep.
Apart from several theories have been advanced to explain the origin of the song. But there are no pieces of evidence to support these theories.
Variations in the lyrics
Various versions with variations in lyrics are known till date. The earliest printed version found in Mother Goose's Melody (London, c. 1765), has the following lyrics:
On the tree tops,
When the wind blows,
The cradle will rock
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
and down will come Baby,
Cradle and all.
The version from Songs for the Nursery (London, 1805), has the following words:
Rock-a-bye baby, thy cradle is green,
Father's a nobleman, mother's a queen...
Alternate Lyrics as shown in The Real Mother Goose published in 1916:
Rock-a-bye baby, thy cradle is green;
Father's a nobleman, mother's a queen;
And Aggy's a lady, and wears a gold ring;
And Johnny's a drummer, and drums for the king.
The most common version used today is:
Rock-a-bye baby, on the tree tops,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
The full version of the song has following lyrics:
Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree tops
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
Down will come baby, cradle and all
Baby is drowsing, cosy and fair
Mother sits near in her rocking chair
Forward and back, the cradle she swings
Though baby sleeps, he hears what she sings
Rock-a-bye baby, do not you fear
Never mind, baby, mother is near
Wee little fingers, eyes are shut tight
Now sound asleep - until morning light