Top 10 Most Beautiful Lullabies

By Heather on October 9th 2011


I'm a sucker for a good lullaby. A few years ago (um... eleven), I came across a CD of lullabies from around the world that can still calm me in an instant. I was in my mid-twenties and looking for a few soothing sleep-helpers amidst the roller-coaster experiences inherent in that age and my new life as a performing arts student in Boulder, Colorado (fun times). That's when I discovered chamomile tea, lavender bouquets, mobiles (I made my own from sticks and feathers and things I found in my neighborhood) and this CD, On A Starry Night.

Years later, thinking about the soothing love-filled melodies inspired me to compile a list of top ten most beautiful lullabies. Most are my own personal favorites, but I got a little help from my friends, too.

10. Hush Little Baby

A natural, this song is one of the first I ever learned. I think I first heard it in preschool. I remember straining to learn the lyrics.

9. Go To Sleep You Little Baby

Another classic, this americana ballad provides an irresistible foundation for stacks and stacks of gorgeous harmony. I particularly like the version sung by Alison Kraus, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, and Patty Griffin. Here's a link to a YouTube video of the Go to Sleep You Little Baby sung by the first three. This song is also featured in the Coen Brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou.

8. Brahm's Lullaby (aka Cradle Song)

I never knew what this song was called until I started digging around for my friends' favorite lullabies, too. And lo and behold...

7. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

"...up above the world so high like a diamond in the sky..." And though this video does not feature the song, it captures the spirit and is a stellar beginning animator's work. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cokBwKQxl5Y

6. Hey Jude

Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and tweaked for John's son Julian, this is the lullaby my friend Julien was sung as a child by his mother. A very nice bedtime soother, I think.

5. Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping)

This is a favorite of my friend Danette and is sung perfectly (or at least very sweetly) by this two-year-old (whom I do not know, but rather just stumbled upon on YouTube).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWbm0CtN0e0

4. Baby Mine

This heartbreaker from Disney's Dumbo is not only something I'd love to sing to children, but I also added it to my jazz/lounge set list a while back (I'm a singer, too). You can really "smoke" this one up with a little trombone and a husky voice, which makes it a little less of a tear-jerker (but not much).

3. Dream A Little Dream

Made famous by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Doris Day, among others, this is a real sweetie. My friend Pam sings the Mamma Cass (The Mamas & The Pappas) version to her girls all the time! I first remember hearing this song when I was eleven-years-old in the "two Corey's" hit film of the same name. It probably stuck in my memory because I had a huge crush on Corey Haim (I'm sure I'm the only one).

2. Common Threads

Written and performed by Bobby McFerrin and featured on the A Starry Night CD, I had not listened to this song for many years when one day recently my boyfriend (a #1 caliber McFerrin fan) put it on while I was distracted by something else. The whole world melted for a moment! There I was in that huge house with a bunch of other college students, having painted by room like a sky and sipping chamomile the night before a big show...

1. Kothbiro

Seldom has any song been on repeat so often and continuously in my home. A song from Kenya about children bringing in cattle from the rain as performed by Ayub Ogada is among my favorites of all time for its soothing melody, imbera-plucked counter-melody, and lilting vocal delivery. I can listen to it for hours (and have). You may recognize it from the soundtrack to The Constant Gardener, though it was already around a long time before the film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SXt-7dMsxw