This is, quite simply, the most evil lullaby I’ve ever heard.
I especially like “The worst is called Tisiphone / Shall lash thee to eternity; And therefore sleep thou peacefully.” Because that would make me feel better, I know…
This piece is part of a song cycle called “A Charm of Lullabies“, the rest of which are really quite innocuous. This one, though, has a text by Thomas Randolph, who clearly had a baby who was teething in a big way. Though I suppose it’s not really much worse than “Hushabye baby”, which ends with the baby’s cradle falling from the treetop with the baby still inside it. Or perhaps not by that point. (I really shouldn’t write these posts late at night, should I?)
The singer, Alice Coote, is a rather wonderful mezzo-soprano – I love her deep low notes, and the wonderful way she puts the mood of the song across. Scary stuff.
Here’s another recording, this time by Sarah Connelly. To me, it sounds just that little bit more unhinged than Alice Coote’s version, which is always a good thing, but her low notes are a bit too pretty for my taste. I like the colour of Coote’s voice in this better. Both gorgeous recordings, though.
Oh, and just in case you missed the lyrics, here they are:
Sleep! or I will make
Erinnys whip thee with a snake,
And cruel Rhadamanthus take
Thy body to the boiling lake,
Where fire and brimstones never slake;
Thy heart shall burn, thy head shall ache,
And ev’ry joint about thee quake;
And therefore dare not yet to wake!
Sleep! or thou shalt see
The horrid hags of Tartary,
Whose tresses ugly serpants be,
And Cerberus shall bark at thee,
And all the Furies that are three
The worst is called Tisiphone,
Shall lash thee to eternity;
And therefor sleep thou peacefully