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Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word Lyrics
Table of Contents
Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,
Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.
If that mockingbird don’t sing,
Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.
If that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.
If that looking glass gets broke,
Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat.
If that billy goat won’t pull,
Mama’s gonna buy you a cart and bull.
If that cart and bull turn over,
Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.
If that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and cart.
If that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.
Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word
As a parent, singing lullabies is one of the simplest joys of putting my own children to bed each night. And Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word has always been a personal favorite. The nonsensical lyrics and soothing melody never fail to put a smile on my kids’ faces, distracting them from the fact that bedtime is closing in. Beyond being a sleep aid, I believe songs like these create special bonding moments that my children will look back on fondly.
What parent doesn’t want to give their child the world? While most of our tangible gifts end up broken or discarded, these lyrics promise the intangible gifts of comfort, imagination, and love. For me, this song represents the innocence of childhood that I try my best to preserve for my kids, even as they grow older. Now, let’s dive into the origins and hidden meanings behind this odd little ditty.
Origins and Meaning of Hush Little Baby
While the exact origins of Hush Little Baby are unknown, historians point to the post-Civil War Southern United States as the setting where this folk song first emerged. The lyrics are thought to have roots in African American oral traditions, as slave mothers may have sung similar melodies to their children. The nonsensical and fantastical promises of gifts like diamond rings and billy goats reflect the harsh realities for slaves who had nothing material to give their children. Beyond material objects, these mothers could only offer comforting words to hush their babies’ cries.
Over time, the song evolved with additions and variations reflecting later periods in American history. The mockingbird gift likely came from the classic 1860s folk song “Listen to the Mockingbird.” The horse and cart promise also indicate later origins after the Industrial Revolution made carts more common.
Ultimately, the meaning behind Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word is a story of a parent’s unconditional love. No matter what the child needs or wants, the mother in the song promises she will provide. Of course, diamonds, goats, and carts make little sense as actual baby gifts! But that nonsensical, playful imagining of impossible gifts adds to the song’s charm. As I’ve sung to my own children, I know that the true gift is the comfort of my presence and the promise that I will always care for them. These timeless lyrics continue resonating with parents and children today, crossing generations and regions.
Fun Facts about Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word
- In the earliest known published version in the 1927 book “American Ballads and Folk Songs,” the lyrics promised a child named Johnny items like a “dog named Rorer.” Over time, it evolved into gifts for babies and using the name Rover.
- Though it emerged in Southern oral tradition, the song became widely known across America in the 20th century through folk music revivals and compilations.
- Unlike some nursery rhymes with dark origins, this song always had innocuous intentions to simply quiet fretful babies.
- As an American folk tune, many variations exist across regions. Some versions have a child named Hushabye or Billy, while the gifts range from ponies to squirrels!
- The simple, soothing melody and repetitive verses make it easy for parents and children to memorize. Many kids can recite the lyrics from memory after just a few bedtime renditions.
- Artists like Louis Armstrong, Olivia Newton-John, and Billy Joel have recorded their own renditions, introducing Hush Little Baby to wider audiences.
Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word holds a special place in my heart as both a dad and as someone who grew up with this lullaby. The silly lyrics never fail to make me smile, reminding me of my own childhood and now singing nightly to my children. While routines like bedtime can sometimes feel repetitive or mundane, simple traditions like reciting these verses create magical bonding moments.
Music has a profound effect on our moods and memories. I hope sharing songs like this with your own kids helps create comforting associations that they hold onto even as adults. What songs bring you back to being a child? Share your own musical memories below!50 Fun and Educational Kiddie Songs with Lyrics – Sing Along (thecornydad.com)