Most lullabies sung in Canada came originally from the Old World, except for those of the Indigenous peoples.


Most lullabies sung in Canada came originally from the Old World, except for those of the Indigenous peoples. A few Indigenous lullabies have become fairly well known, including 'Nadu Nadudu,' which Marius Barbeau collected from a Nass person in British Columbia in 1920, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) 'Ho Ho Watanay,' which Alan Mills heard in the Kahnawake (formerly Caughnawaga) reservation in 1955, 'Baba Baby,' which Helen Creighton noted from a Mi'kmaq mother in New Brunswick, and 'Tah Ne Bah,' which Barbara Cass-Beggs got from a Dakota (Sioux) woman, Dorothy Francis, in Regina. An attractive Inuit lullaby which Rev D.H. Whitbread taped in Cape Dorset has been sung in an English translation beginning 'Still now and hear my singing'.

Among English-speaking Canadians the best-known lullaby is probably 'Rockabye Baby,' and Creighton has published several forms of it in Folksongs from Southern New Brunswick (National Museum of Man, Publications in Folk Culture, vol 1, 1971). Among French Canadians the favourite is 'C'est la poulette grise,' and Creighton noted an Acadian one, 'Dors, dors, le p'tit bibi'. Also perpetuated are 'Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère,' and 'Dodo, l'enfant, do'. Icelanders in Manitoba and Saskatchewan sing a much-loved Icelandic lullaby, 'Bi Bi Og Blaka,' and German Canadians have preserved their traditional Wiegenlieder. Seven of the items mentioned appear in Folk Lullabies by Barbara and Michael Cass-Beggs (Oak 1969), and François Brassard has written about 'Fais la dodo, l'enfant de la cage' (CFMJ, vol 4, 1976).

Several Canadian artists have recorded albums devoted to lullabies (see Discography). Victoria-based Pat Carfra has become known across Canada as the 'Lullaby Lady'.

Several Canadian musicians have composed music for lullabies, but most of the texts are from European sources. The few with Canadian texts include MacMillan's arrangement of 'Nadu Nadudu,' the 'Kuyas,' based on a traditional Cree lullaby, with which Riel's wife soothes her baby in Somers' opera Louis Riel; Kenneth Winters' setting for children's voices of the lullaby in James Reaney's Names and Nicknames; Kenneth Leslie's 'Cape Breton Lullaby' arranged for choir by Stuart Calvert; Norman Symonds' 'Lullaby' from Episode at Big Quill; Nancy Telfer's arrangement of 'Lullaby of the Iroquois' from the translation by E. Pauline Johnson; Ruth Watson Henderson's 'Lullaby'; and Imant Raminsh's arrangement of 'Bye Bye Baby: Doukhobor Lullaby'. Those who have published music for lullabies by European poets, named or anonymous, include Anderson, Archer, Bissell, Brott, Coulthard, Dela, Eggleston, Robert Fleming, Morawetz, and Willan. Berceuses, or cradle songs for instruments - piano, alone or in duo with other instruments - have been written by Brott, Brabant, Buczynski (accordion solo), Eckhardt-Gramatté, Fiala, Gratton, von Kunits, Mathieu, Matton, and Pépin. Brott also has written a berceuse for small orchestra and one for saxophone quartet, and Champagne and Dela have written berceuses for orchestra. Stephen Chatman wrote Grouse Mountain Lullaby for concert band and Peter Paul Koprowski wrote Lullabies for an Angel for soprano, alto flute, and piano with a text of phonic sounds. Talivaldis Kenins' Fantasy Variations is based on an Inuit lullaby as is the lullaby in Alfred Kunz' Two Piece Suite. Other compositions exist in manuscript at the Canadian Music Centre.


Canadian Composers
Anderson, W.H. 'Lullaby of the Little Angels'. Toronto Children's Chorus. TCC-D-002

Archer Cradle Song. Forrester. RCI 108

Brott Cradle Song for small orchestra. Beaudet conductor. RCI Canadian Album No. 3

- 'Cradle Song' from Songs of Contemplation. Marshall. RCI 116/Gabora. CBC SM-6

- 'Lullaby' from Lullaby and Procession of Toys. Beaudet conductor. RCI 5

Coulthard, arr Cradle Song. H. McLean conductor. RCI 226/RCA CCS-1020/Forrester. West WST-17137/West Gold WGS-8124

Dela Berceuse béarnaise. Forrester. West WST-17137/West Gold WGS-8124/Pro Arte CDD-411

Eggleston 'Armenian Lullaby,' 'Jewish Lullaby,' 'Norse Lullaby' from Five Lullabies of Eugene Field. Patenaude. RCI 247

Fleming, arr Folk Lullabies. Forrester. CBC SM-144

Kalnins Lullaby. Waddington conductor. RCI 35

MacMillan 'Nadu Nadudu'. Vickers. Centrediscs CMC-2185

Matton Berceuse. J. Dufresne. RCI 135/5-ACM 29

Somers 'Lullaby to a Dead Child' from Three Sonnets. K. Quinton piano. RCI 450

- 'Kuyas' from Louis Riel. Roslak. Centrediscs CMC-1183/3-Centrediscs CMC-24-25-2685

Weinzweig Berceuse. A. Florou piano. 1970. CBC SM-99

Canadian Performers

Carfra, Pat. Lullabies and Laughter. (1982). L.L. Records JOL-02

- Songs for Sleepyheads and Out-of-Beds. (1984). L.L. Records JOL-5

- Babes, Beasts and Birds. (1987). Lullaby Lady LUL-3

Forrester, Maureen. A Charm of Lullabies. 1967. West 17137/West Gold WGS-8124

- Lullabies. 1988. Pro Arte CDD-411

Gascon, Lucie. Berceuse... Dorette LG-5121

Kaldor, Connie, and Campagne, Carmen. Lullaby Berceuse. (1988). Oak Street OSL-011