For thousands of years parents have sung lullabies to help their children sleep. I think I started singing songs when tucking up my daughter in bed from the time when she moved into her own bedroom. She was five months old at the time. With that I continued a long family tradition of singing songs at night. They’re not always lullabies, but somehow songs that I think fit the occasion: evening hymns, short worship songs, fun or reflective songs. From an early repertoire of about four songs, it has now expanded to about a dozen, which I—and by now the children—know by heart. There are English, German, and Spanish songs among the dozen—even a Latin song of praise. Now and then we also get out a hymn book or song book to increase the repertoire a bit. And I suppose there’s always the opportunity to learn a few more songs by heart.
I realised that only two of the songs were among my mother’s repertoire of bedside songs. These two songs have already been sung by my great-great-grandmother at night. The melody to one of them is apparently not well known and is an obscure Swiss version that is not common at all. Of course, I think it’s the best melody for this particular song, but others would disagree. Sometimes I wonder whether any of my children will sing these or any of the other songs. It is often when we ourselves have children that we go back to what we knew from our own childhood.
Passing on the experiences of our own childhood sometimes is good, at times maybe not so much. After all, times have changed. Some things can stand the test of time, others not. Still, the children like the songs now, and I hope that even if they won’t sing them later on, they will have made a connection with the music and some of the good texts.