The Celtic Cradle — JR002

 News flash! This double award-winning album was originally released in 1994. In March 2017, Jill re-released this album in CD format (it also remains available as a download through CD Baby). This is a limited edition, and the physical copies (discs) are can be ordered directly only from Jill.

Arrane Ben Drogh Hraghtalagh
Gille Beag Ó
O Can Ye Sew Cushions
Suo-Gân
Deirín Dé
Si Lwli Lwli
Corsican Lullaby
Toutouig
Arrane Ny Niee
H-Ó Abha-Ínn
Dors Mon Goëland
Si Hei Lwli Mabi
Arrane Saveenagh
Hungan
Lullaby In C
Cadlee Ny Moidyn Moirey
Right By Your Side

Click here to hear samples of music from this album.

The Celtic Cradle is Jill’s second solo album. Recorded in England in 1993, it showcases a genre of particular interest to Jill for many years. Her initial impulse for making the album came after many years of collecting lullabies from different cultures, when she read a quote by a famous 19th-century English poet who arrogantly claimed that “The Celts have no lullabies: they are too warlike.” Jill promptly set out to disprove this preposterous, ignorant statement. The result was an album that has become something of a classic.

The album won two prestigious awards in the USA: the NAPPA Gold Seal for 1995 and the Parent’s Choice Silver Award for the same year, and has continued to be popular not only with new babies and their weary parents, but also with people who are going through stressful times and/or illness, or who simply wish to relax to quiet, evocative music.

Some time ago, Jill was asked to share some of the ‘history’ of this recording:

“The album came about because a) I’d long realised that lullabies convey a whole lot more than just sentimental words to make a little one sleep and b) a chance encounter with a statement by 19th-century Englishman AP Graves (father of poet and novelist Robert Graves) acted as the proverbial red flag to the bull. He claimed that “…The Celts have no lullabies: they are too warlike.”, which says far more about his ignorance and arrogance than about the culture of the communities where Celtic languages are spoken and sung. Long before I became a professional singer or considered making a commercial recording, I set out to prove him wrong. My research, conducted over many years, revealed a wealth of beautiful lullabies in the different Celtic languages.

“Once I’d selected my 17 songs for the album, I started singing them each night to Tal and Lisa, then aged 10 and 6, respectively… until the night came when they sat up in bed and sang along with me on the choruses!

“After my first solo recording experience in Israel (Through an Open Door), I decided to try my luck recording in the region from which most of the songs on the album came. I am very happy that I did, because I was privileged to work with a fine team, from Stewart Field (the studio owner — a jazz trumpeter, who kept asking whether there wasn’t a part for him to play on the album) and Mark Powell (my co-producer and a multi-instrumentalist), to Steafan Hannigan, a multi-talented native of Belfast who dropped in for three days (from touring with two different bands!) to provide bodhran, low whistle and uillean pipes.

“I arrived in November 1993, bringing snow with me from Jerusalem, and didn’t see the sun again for 11 days; the reason being that I reached the studio each morning at 8 a.m. and didn’t surface again until after midnight. It was a crazy, stressful, but heady time: I knew that, with these professionals standing beside me, I could fly as high as I wanted and that they would spread a safety-net under me.

“The result was not perfect (we left off an entire introduction in the mastering!) -– albums never are; nor am I sure that they should be. People often tell me that I sound better in concert: that’s the way I want it to be. I can allow myself luxuries in the studio –- such as the fun of singing harmonies with myself -– that I cannot repeat on stage. I know I’ve come a very long way –- both musically and personally -– since I recorded The Celtic Cradle back in 1993, but I’m still proud of it, still enjoy listening to it (remembering all the funny things that happened along the way), and am thrilled that some members of my family still do, too.

I’ll only add one more thing. Surgeon-general’s warning: Do not play while using heavy machinery!”

March 2017: It’s now nearly a quarter of a century since I recorded the album, and my grown daughters have been begging me to produce more physical copies for them to give as gifts to the new souls arriving among family and friends. How could I refuse?

Liner notes:

1. Arrane Ben Drogh Hraghtalagh (Isle of Man) The Smuggler’s Lullaby. When the English excise men raid a smuggler’s house, his wife pretends to lull the baby to sleep, while warning her husband in Manx Gaelic. See the excise men coming/Sleep my little hero/They’ll be seeking wine and whiskey/Ah me, child of mine/Sleep my little hero/Daddy’s late and we must warn him/This time he’ll have nothing illegal/The Englishmen may board us/They’ll find nothing wrong/Let them search the boat or house/Nothing’s in the hold but herrings.

2. Gille Beag Ó (Scotland) Little Lad Oh. Little lad oh, feeble lad oh/of the sheep/I am tired of nursing you while you tear my clothing/If you were the son of gentry, I would get the value of my sheep.

3. O Can Ye Sew Cushions (Lowland Scots)* I learned this at school in New Zealand.

4. Suo-Gân (Wales) Sleep, my child, upon my bosom/It is warm and cosy/Mother’s arms are clasped around you/A mother’s heart beats in my breast/Sleep in peace tonight/Sleep gently/Why do you smile now/So tenderly in your sleep?/Are the angels smiling on you/As you smile tenderly/Fear not, it is only a leaf/Knocking at the door/It is only a solitary little wave/Rippling on the shore/Sleep, my child/nothing here can frighten you/Rest gently on my bosom/And smile upon the angels.

5. Deirín Dé (Ireland) The nightjar is out in the heath/The brown bittern calls in the reeds/Cows will go west at dawn/And my child will go to mind them in the pasture/The moon will rise and the sun will set/Cows will return at close of day/I shall let my child go picking blackberries/But sleep soundly till daybreak.

6. Si Lwli Lwli (Wales) A very old song in which a mother tries to comfort her ailing child.

7. Corsican Lullaby* Translated into French from Italian. In the hills of Cuscione the little one was born/And I am rocking the cradle so my love will sleep/The cradle tenderly predicts her future/Sleep, little girl, mother’s joy/I shall make your clothes from fine cloth of gold/Later, you will marry the finest man in the mountains/Who tends the herds of cows and flocks of goats/Proudly the bride will pass by on her horse/The swollen bagpipe will be heard amongst the escort/Your husband will lead, in his leather boots/Your parents, so proud and courageous, will celebrate/When you arrive in Mascione, where you will remain/Your mother-in-law will take your hand/Giving you clotted cream, according to custom.

8. Toutouig(Brittany) Toutouig, la la, my little child/Your mother is here, little one/To rock you/To sing you her little song/The other day you cried a little/Today you smiled for Mother/Poor little one/It is time to close your tiny eyes/Small one/You must rest your head/Little rose/Your cheek next to my heart/Little angel/Do not bat your wings to fly to heaven.

9. Arrane Ny Niee (Isle of Man) The Washing Song. The fairy folk lull their children while bathing them. Hushabye, my darling/Hands now I’ll wash them/Feet now I’ll wash them/My handsome young one/Your body fair and smooth/Clothes made of silk so fine/Each day puts beauty on you/My sweet darling, with curly hair/King of stars, blessings on you/My heart, my joy/Whatever does not grow by twilight grows at morn/Whatever does not grow at noon, by night-time grows and puts on every grace/Each day puts strength upon you.

10. H-Ó Abha-Ínn (Ireland) River. River, my love/My baby, sleep till day/River, my baby, my joy/And river, my baby, early and late/My mama left with the tide/And I do not know who it is.

11. Dors Mon Goëland (Brittany) Sung in French. Françoise Coriat’s grandmother sang this to her but, for reasons of superstition, always omitted the last verse (missing here) because, in the end, the sea claims the grown child’s life. Sleep, my seagull/Sleep, for the moon is rising/Sleep, my seagull,/In your little white bed/The waves sing on the shore/So that you will sleep/Listen to the wind moan/Later, on the sea/When you’re a little ship’s boy/You’ll sleep out of doors/Later, in her turn/The sea will take you, the enchantress/She will take you from me one day.

12. Si Hei Lwli Mabi (Wales) The ship now sails away/The captain’s on his way/The wind blows from the east/The seagull’s on her nest.

13. Arrane Saveenagh (Isle of Man) Slumber Song. Be quiet, my baby, sleep while I sing/And as the wind blows your hammock will swing/But if the branch breaks, everything will fall down/Baby in cradle, singer, and all/Quietly, my child, borne along on a wave/The tall ship is swaying, and the wind’s song is loud/Over the waves, over the sea/Wrapped safely you’ll sleep, sailing to me/On the hills of the west, my child, my love/When the twilight darkens/There is peace above/But cobwebs of music waft through the air/Listen, can’t you hear them drifting to and fro?

14. Hungan (Cornwall) Lullaby. From Merv Davey. Sleep, baby, sleep/Daddy is not near/Tossed in the deep/Lullaby/Moon shining bright/On dancing foam/Green harbour light/Bring Daddy home/Daddy is away/Tossed on the deep/Looking for day/Catching the fish that always roam/Fulfill your wish/Bring Daddy home/Daddy is far away/Tossed on the deep/Watching a star/Follow the plough/To anchor stone/Make a wish now/Bring Daddy home.

15. Lullaby In C (Ray Scudero –1946-2005 © Joanna Katzen-Scudero ACUM)* Sung by kind permission.

16. Cadlee Ny Moidyn Moirrey (Isle of Man) Mary’s Lullaby. Lyrics by HP Kelly ©. Thanks to Mrs Esther Richmond and her brother for their kind permission to sing their father’s lyrics. Little baby, hush now/Rest in peace, my little one/My heart, sleep on/We’ll know many sorrows, little baby/But today I hold you safe.

17. Right By Your Side (Jill Rogoff © ACUM)* For my children.

To see reviews and comments on this album, click here.