Even if you didn’t know there were lyrics to Brahm’s lullaby—or just didn’t know the name of the song—you’ve definitely heard this recognizable melody. Maybe you’ve hummed it to coax your own baby to sleep.
Sometimes referred to as “Lullaby and Goodnight” or “Cradle Song,” Brahms’ lullaby is officially named "Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht," Op. 49 No. 4, and was written by, well, Johannes Brahms (thus it’s widely known common name).
According to CBC, the German composer wrote the lullaby as a gift to “the one who got away”—former flame Bertha Faber—on the occasion of the birth of her second child (which she named Johannes). The composition is a kind of love letter, as it contains a counter-melody to a German folk song that Faber sang to Brahms on their long walks together while they were dating.
Lullaby and good night, with roses bedight, With lilies o'er spread is baby's wee bed. Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed. Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed.
Lullaby and good night, thy mother's delight. Bright angels beside my darling abide. They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast. They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast.
This article was originally published online in July 2013.