Lullabies

It is said that the purpose of a lullaby is twofold: the tune is meant to sooth the child, and the lyrics may be intended for the parent or guardian who is putting the child to sleep. In what ways is this apparent?

"Laylah Tov"  ("לילה טוב", "Good Night")

Source: HaKeves HaShisha Asar

This song comes from a book of children’s poems turned songs by a collective of well-known Israel artists, called HaKeves HaShisha Asar (“The Sixteenth Sheep”).

 

Well

restful and dreamy night 
it's late

and tomorrow we'll wake up and see 
how the day comes after every night 

Well

darkness fell on the street 
only the moon leaves its yellow glow 
a cricket chirps its chirping, singing

good night…

טוב

ליל מנוחה וחלום

כבר מאוחר

ומחר נקום ונראה

איך שמגיע היום בסוף כל לילה

טוב

חושך נפל על הרחוב

רק הירח משאיר את אורו הצהוב

צרצר מצרצר צירצורו שר

...לילה טוב

Tov

leil menucha v’chalom

kvar m’uchar

u’machar nakum v’nireh

eich sh’magiyah hayom b’sof kol laylah

Tov

choshech nafal al harechov

rak hayareach mashir et oro ha’tzahov

tzartzar metzartzer tzirtzuro shar -

laylah tov…

 

 

“Numi Numi”  ("נומי נומי”, "Sleep, Sleep")

Source: Yechiel Heilperin

A classic Israeli children’s lullaby that encourages the child to sleep and promises that good things will come.

 

Sleep, sleep, my little girl.

sleep, sleep.

sleep, sleep, my little one,

sleep, sleep!

 

Daddy's gone to work

he went, Daddy went.

he'll return when the moon comes out

he'll bring you a present!

 

Sleep, sleep my little girl...

 

Daddy went to the vineyards

he went, Daddy went.

He'll return when the stars come out

he'll bring you grapes!

Sleep, sleep my little girl...

נוּמִי, נוּמִי, יַלְדָּתִי,

נוּמִי, נוּמִי, נִים

נוּמִי, נוּמִי, קְטַנָּתִי,

נוּמִי, נוּמִי, נִים

 

אַבָּא הָלַךְ לָעֲבוֹדָה

הָלַךְ הָלַךְ אַבָּא

יָשׁוּב עִם צֵאת הַלְּבָנָה

יָבִיא לָךְ מַתָּנָה
 

...נוּמִי, נוּמִי, יַלְדָּתִי

 

אַבָּא הָלַךְ אֶל הַכֶּרֶם

הָלַךְ הָלַךְ אַבָּא

יָשׁוּב עִם צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים

יָבִיא לָךְ עֲנָבִים

 

...נוּמִי, נוּמִי, יַלְדָּתִי

Numi numi yaldati

numi numi nim

numi numi k’tanati

numi numi nim!

 

Aba halach lavodah

halach halach aba

yashuv im tzet halevana

yavi lach matana

 

Numi numi yaldati...

 

Aba halach el hakerem

halach halach aba

yashuv im tzet hakochavim

yavi lach anavim

 
Numi numi yaldati…
 
 

Children's Songs

 

“Yonatan HaKatan”  ("יונתן הקטן",  "Little Yonatan")

Source: Folk

A folk song about a little troublemaker boy named Yonatan. Anyone in Israel named Yonatan was likely nicknamed “Yonatan HaKatan” during their childhood because of this song!

 

Little Yonatan
ran to the garden in the morning.
He climbed on the tree.
He searched for baby birds

Oy va voy, that naughty one!
He has a big hole in his pants!
He rolled out of the tree
and received his punishment!

יונתן הקטן
רץ בבוקר אל הגן
הוא טיפס על העץ
אפרוחים חיפש

!אוי ואבוי לו לשובב
חור גדול במכנסיו
מן העץ התגלגל
!ועונשו קיבל

Yonatan Hakatan

ratz baboker el hagan

hu tipes al ha’etz

efrochim chipes

Oy va voy lo la shovav

chor gadol bamichnasav

min ha’etz hitgalgel

v’onsho kibel

 

“El HaMa’ayan”  ("אל המעיין", "To the Spring")

Source: Folk

A call & response song that is sung from childhood through high school scout camping trips and beyond.

 

To the spring

came a goat, came a little goat,

To the spring

came a little goat

 

Peace upon him

upon Lavan son of Betuel?

peace upon him

and upon Rachel?

אל המעיין (אל המעיין)

בא גדי, בא גדי קטן (בא גדי, בא גדי קטן)

אל המעיין (אל המעיין)

בא גדי קטן (בא גדי קטן)

 

השלום לו (השלום לו)

ללבן בן בתואל (ללבן בן בתואל)

השלום לו (השלום לו)

ולרחל (ולרחל)

El hama'ayan (el hama'ayan)

ba g'di, ba g'di katan (ba g'di, ba g'di katan)

El hama'ayan (el hama'ayan)

ba g'di katan (ba g'di katan)

 

Hashalom lo (hashalom lo)

leLavan ben Betu'el (leLavan ben Betu'el)

hashalom lo (hashalom lo)

u’leRachel (u’leRachel)

 

"Yesh Lanu Tayish" ("יש לנו תיש", "We Have a Goat")

Source: Folk

This popular children’s song is sung along with body movements. Children pair up and connect their hands to make a bridge, and then two by two, the children run through!

 

Hands up
on your head,
on your shoulders,
one, two, three!

ידיים למעלה

על הראש

על הכתפיים

אחת, שתיים, שלוש!

 

Yadayim lemala
al ha rosh,
al hak'tefayim,
achat, shtaim, shalosh!

 

  • What songs do you remember from childhood?
  • What Hebrew and/or English word/s stand out in any of these songs to you? Why are they so significant to you?
  • Do you have associations with any of these songs? If so, what?
  • What might the content of beloved lullabies reveal about the culture that they come from?
  • How does having a shared set of songs from childhood create bonds?
  • If you were to create a song or lullaby, what would you sing about and why?