What bedtime, poetry, and major awards have in common.

Here at Diapers and Divinity, we have a longstanding tradition (meaning we did it twice, and by “we” I mean “me’) of promoting the fine art of poetry.

In the Spring, there was a limerick challenge intended to capture the joy of attending church with children in tow.  The readers/voters chose the following two winners:  Becca and The Queen!  Here are their respective limericks about the joy of going to church with small children:

We’re coming in five minutes too late,
in clothes that my children all hate.
They’re squirming and squawking,
the first speaker’s talking,
why must the front bench be my fate?


My twin girls climb all over the place;
Now my dress is undone to my waist.
I guess that’s why Bishop
Looks like he might throw up.
Wish this closing song had a quicker pace!

In the summer, there was a haiku contest about vacationing with children, and sweet Melanie J won our hearts with this tender morsel:

A soft, fuzzy head
Whiffs of coconut sunblock

Gold skin and freckles

Cute little white bums

Peeking out of swimming trunks

I smile. It’s summer.

And so now, in lovely Autumn, we enter the realm of an oft-forgotten genre (perhaps because it’s not really poetry at all, but this is my blog and I can do what I want):  the lullaby.  What does a mother love more than sleeping children, tucked into cozy little beds, comatose, quiet, and still?  I realized the other day that my children have started to become big enough that I don’t really sing to them at night anymore.  Perhaps they consider this a great blessing, but I kind of miss it.  When Grant was born, my first little infant, I wanted to somehow instill in him the concept of worship before bedtime even though he was too young to read scriptures and pray, so my solution was singing lullabys.  I wrote lyrics to accompany the music of There is a Green Hill Far Away, and the song was a little testimony about how special he was.  I sang it every night, and then to represent prayer, I would sing A Child’s Prayer. With Clark, I added My Heavenly Father Loves Me (which he called “Song of a bird”), and Natalie’s signature lullaby became You Are My Sunshine (admittedly not spiritual, but nevertheless heartfelt).  Anyway, it dawned on me the other night that it had been so long since I sang Grant’s lullaby, that I think I forgot the words!  I lay awake one night trying to remember, and I came up with these three verses.  This may have been the whole thing, but I have a haunting feeling I forgot a verse.  Handel is cringing in his grave with jealousy that he didn’t write anything as glorious as this.  (To the tune of There Is a Green Hill Far Away):


Now it’s your turn.  Pick a tune, and write a lullaby to your child/children.  Even just one verse is fine.  It can be beautiful or hilarious or somewhere in between.  Submit your lyrics (and identify the tune) in the comments below by Sunday night, and next Monday I’ll announce the finalists.  The winner will get a season-long highlight on my sidebar plus the great honor of this poetry crown to display on your own blog with pride.  (Melanie, Becca, and The Queen, feel free to snag this button as a reminder of your past glory.)

Poetry crown

Last night, I hugged Natalie and sang her some songs before bedtime for old time’s sake.  I need some new material now, so show me your best stuff, all you fake poets out there.

(And even if you don’t have an entry, tell us about your own lullaby traditions.)


25 thoughts on “What bedtime, poetry, and major awards have in common.

  1. “You Are My Sunshine” was a staple in our home as a lullaby with all 6 of our children. It had a bit of an unexpected effect when I sang it to our preemie triplets while they “lived” in the hospital for 2 months after birth, though. I would start at the first incubator, hold that baby for a while, and sing. Of course “You Are My Sunshine” would be one of the songs. Then I would put that baby back into the incubator and go on to the next baby, and then to the last baby. As the days turned into weeks I realized that I had a bit of an uncomfortable feeling as I sang that particular song. Then I realized it was the words…
    ….You are my sunshine, my *only* sunshine….
    I felt almost like an unfaithful lover as I sang those words to each baby every night!

  2. I missed the boat on this one (as well as on many other things). I don’t remember singing the babies to sleep and I certainly didn’t try to teach them gospel principles while I held them. Sigh. I’m amazed my kids are tolerant church-goers for all I didn’t do while they were young. I feel so guilty!

    The one tradition–not a lullaby as they are all too old–is that Matt and I give each other micro hugs. He’ll hug an eyelash of mine and I’ll hug his earlobe or something like that. Silly, we know, but both of us enjoy being silly.

  3. I remember singing “I Am a Child of God” when my first was about 6 days old, and I just started bawling!! “I am a child of God, and He has sent me here…” Very touching when you’re holding a brand new little Spirit, just arriving from heaven! I would also sing “When He Comes Again” to my girls. That’s my favorite.

    I’ll have to think more about a lullaby song, though!

  4. I’m sitting here reading this with a sore throat from singing my 2 babies (3 and 1) twenty minutes of “I am a Child of God” and “Families Can Be Together Forever.” It’s a nap time and nightly ritual at our house, and they won’t go to sleep without it. It’s exhausting at times to sing for that long, but I get to feel them sleeping in my arms twice a day every day. I love it and will miss it all too soon.
    I love the idea of writing my own lullaby, I’ll have to think of one and get back to you.

  5. My kids all have their favorite songs for bedtime. My 3yo has to have “Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam” and “Row, row row your boat, it’s time to go to bed. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, lay down your sleepy head!” (Their dad made that one up-they think it’s silly when we change the words to songs, but that one stuck!) My 6yo loves “Heavenly Father Loves me” and my 7 yo asks for “Five sleepy heads” sung to the tune of Brahms lullaby. I will see if I can come up with a unique lullaby, I’m not the best at words…maybe I will enlist the help of my hubby, he’s better than me, but then it may just be silly!

  6. What a wonderful idea! Singing the children to sleep is a long-loved tradition in our home. For years Jeremiah begged me to sing Away in a Manger and Silent Night at bedtime…year round. He would always wink and smile, or squeeze my hand when I sang, “mother and child”. That’s what he called Silent Night: Mother and Child. (So sweet.)

    We had a wonderful little song that I picked up from a doll-making workshop (go figure) and changed the words a bit. We used to sing this right before family prayer. (I don’t know the tune name; I think it’s a Kyrie from something Catholic.)

    We are one with the heart of the mother
    We are one with a heart of love
    We are one with the heart of the Father
    We are one with God.

    Gather ’round
    In a circle of friends
    Family love
    Is a love that never ends….

    We are one with the heart of the mother
    We are one with a heart of love
    We are one with the heart of the Father
    We are one with God.

    Gather ’round
    In a circle of Love
    Our Father up above….

    I’ll try to stop by later in the week with a more definite entry.

  7. I will have to think on this contest, but first a funny story.

    I thought it would be so great to sing “I am a Child of God” to my baby every night, so she would love that song. Well it totally backfired on me, because as she got a little older, she would start crying inconsolably every time she heard it, whether I was singing it or someone else. I think she had started equating being left alone in her crib with the song. Every once in awhile it was sung in Sacrament meeting and she had to be taken out into the hall, beside herself. This went on until she was about 4 years old. And I never tried to use it as a lullaby for my other two, but for some reason they would cry whenever they heard it, too! Strange phenomenon!

  8. I don’t know if I’ll enter the contest, but I always sing “I am a Child of God” to my oldest (she’s almost 5) and I sing “I Love to See the Temple” to my 2nd (she’s almost 3). They both sleep in the same room so they get both songs sung to them. If I feel like singing more I’ll sing “Families are Forever” and “I Lived in Heaven.” I’ve started to sing the “Army of Helaman” to my son (he’s almost 2 months old).

  9. Warning: I feel an uber-long comment coming on.

    I LOVE your almost-lost lullaby! It brought tears to my eyes.

    My dad always sang “You are my sunshine” and “Dancin’ with my darlin’ with a hole in her stockin’,” and, in German, “My hat is has three corners” He also sang “Down in the Valley, and for years I was confused by the lyric, “Angels in heaven? No I love you,” and only figured out what it really said in my late teens.

    I was long-destined to be a lyric-changer and lullaby-inventor. My mom used to say “boing, boing,” right after the line in “I hope they call me on a mission” that goes, “When I have grown a foot or two,” because she pictured two extra feet suddenly springing out of someone’s body. And my brothers and I have worked out another verse to “Nephi’s Courage” that goes:

    The Lord commanded Nephi to cut off Laban’s head.
    Nephi didn’t want to, ’cause Laban would be dead.
    Laman and Lemuel were both afraid to try
    Nephi was courageous; this was his reply:

    “I will whack, I will hack,
    While Laban’s on his back,
    I know the Lord provides a way
    He wants me to attack.”

    We didn’t only do satire, though. For my youngest brother, my older brother and I made up these lyrics to Brahms’ Lullabye:

    Lullaby, and good night
    Go to sleep, little baby
    Close your eyes and start to dream
    All about how your world seems
    And the seams
    In your shirt
    Wi-ill stay-ay-ay put.
    And the seams
    In your shirt
    Wi-ill stay-ay-ay put.

    (I tried to come up with the actual lyrics to this one to sing it to my youngest child, but I must not ever have really known them.)

    With my own kids, we’ve always had the tradition of singing a song along with our scripture reading and prayer each night, and we’ve done it for so long that I forget that not everyone does this. Sometimes we sing hymns, and a LOT of the time we sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I recently realized that’s been the favorite song of at least one of my kids continuously for at least 10 years. And when we don’t have time for scripture reading, we sing the Articles of Faith to kill two birds with one stone.

    With my oldest, I always sang “Mother I love you” with the words changed to “Isaac I love you,” etc.

    I’ve also always sung “I love Daddy, he loves me” etc. to my tots when I’m changing them or dressing them. We have to sing two verses now to get everyone in, or more than that if we use our names instead of just “brother” and “sister.” Henry insists on first names and also wants to include grandparents and aunts and uncles, so that’s a lot of verses.

    For my 2nd I had a song with a made-up tune that went:

    Mabel Elizabeth Wheeler, I love you
    Mabel Elizabeth Wheeler, I love you
    I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you,
    Mabel Elizabeth, I love you.

    It’s not that great without the music, but it’s pretty catchy with the tune.

    I don’t think I had a specific lullaby for Rose or Henry–there are so many Rose songs anyway (“My Wild Irish Rose,” “Secondhand Rose,” “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose,” etc.) and for Henry I’d sometimes sing that one about Daisy and Henry whose second verse goes, “Henry, Henry, here is my answer true: I’m not crazy over the love of you; I want a stylish marriage, but you can’t afford a carriage, and I’ll be d___d if I’ll be crammed on a bicycle built for two.” With both of them I sang all the usual stuff, traditional lullabies and Primary songs–I’m very fond of the “Song of a bird” song, so it’s a standard. For my youngest, I made up this one, that you’ve already seen on my blog. It’s sung to the tune of “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music”:

    Hazel Grace, Hazel Grace
    Small adorable baby
    Cute and sweet
    Good enough to eat
    You look happy to greet me

    Hazel, my Grace you will always place,
    In my top five babies,
    Hazel Grace, Hazel Grace
    Bless my fam’ly forever.

    Oh, and for a lullaby for Hazel, my 12-year-old son Isaac likes to sing “Snape, Snape, Severus Snape” etc. (Here’s the link in case you’re not one of the nearly 67 million who’ve already watched it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx1XIm6q4r4 )

  10. I sing ALL the time. Much to the sha-grin of my older children. Brooklyn used to sing “I am a child of God.” Only she would say “Parents Kind-of dear.”
    I change lyrics on the spot. I need to think about an entry.

  11. When my children were little, each night we gathered in one of the bedrooms for story time. I would hold the baby and read and they all gathered ’round. After story we would sing to the baby. When our seventh was a baby, we started singing “Rock-a-bye-baby” when his 4 year old brother stopped us. He said, “I don’t like that song–it’s mean for the baby to fall out of the tree.” He told us he had a better way to sing it: “Rock-a-bye-baby in the treetops, when the wind blows, the cradle will rock, when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, but I will catch you so you won’t fall.”

    Now that we have a granddaughter, I will have to think of a lullaby for her.

    (On a side note–Our older daughter as a teen-ager would sing I am A Child of God: “…with parents kind of weird.” )

  12. My kids like me to take songs they know – like Clementine and On Top of Spaghetti – and change the words to add in their names. They get jealous when I use “their” song with a sibling’s name. But I am no poet, as many times I just mash the words together; nor are these all loving lullabies (i frequently include “stinky”). They’re just something fun to make them feel special.

  13. ok I just did one. On the spot. To the tune of “Good-night my someone” from the Music Man. Emma kept saying “no, no Ma-ma” through the whole thing.

    It’s time for sleeping – its time for naps.
    I am getting your bottle – you finish your snack.
    Your going to bed – Its lovely I know.
    Its time for you to go.

    Its time for sleeping – its time for naps.
    Its time for you to snooze and me to relax.
    You dont want to sleep – but for my sanity –
    Its time for sleeping and naps.

  14. Whenever my kids are crying over something trivial and I can’t do anything about it (usually because we are in the car), I soothe myself by singing this song (to the tune of Hush Little Baby):

    “Hush little baby don’t you cry… Momma’s going to poke you in the eye…”

  15. There’s only a year between each of my first three kids, so there were a lot of lullabies sung in during that time. I Am a Child of God, and two Swedish songs that don’t make a lot of sense in either English or Swedish are the ones I remember singing the most. Do any of you wind up mixing up your lyrics in your tiredness and coming up with very interesting renditions??

    My 7th baby tells me “No!” when I try to sing him to sleep. 😦 I can get him to snuggle with me and listen to this song I wrote with the help of some of my kids. I think he enjoys looking at all the pictures of babies. Here’s a youtube link to “If I Were an Angel on Christmas Night” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viBVYEQfXlQ

  16. Sung to Give Said the Little Stream

    Sleep said the mommy, Sleep,
    Rest your head, Sleepyhead
    Sleep said the mommy, Sleep
    As I tuck you into bed

    You’re small, you know
    But wherever you go,
    I’ll be there to keep you safe

    When you wake up we will play
    Morning, noon, thru all the day
    But for now sweet dreams shall be
    Nighttime love from me

  17. Just remembered another of mine. This is to the tune of “Love Is Spoken Here”:

    I see my baby Henry
    And I love him very much
    I think he’s sweet to look at
    And he’s oh so soft to touch
    His coos and his gurgles
    Fill my heart with joy
    And I am thankful
    He’s my little boy

  18. I just remembered the ones I sang to our youngest (before he switched to Silent Night).

    Because of his four-syllable name, we used to sing it to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus: Jeremiah! Jeremiah! Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Jer-e-mi-i-ah!
    (and so on) But that was more of a wake-up anthem. 🙂

    The one we sang the most to put him to sleep is actually pretty lame:
    (It’s to the tune of “Jack and Jill” from that horribly annoying Wee Sing album.)

    Pizza pie, a
    Penny whistle singing….
    Love to you
    and kisses too
    for all the joy you’re bringing.

    But someone should truly give me an award for all the impromptu lyrics I made up to random songs when our oldest was a toddler. It went something like this:

    Him: Sing the Dinosaur Song
    Me: I don’t know the Dinosaur Song
    Him: Yes you do. Sing it!
    Me: (well I made up some ridiculous dinosaur song on the spot. It rhymed. but I can’t remember a single word of it now.)

    Then a few minutes later,

    Him: Sing the Batman Song
    Me: Nanananananana Batman! Nananananana Batman!
    Him: Not THAT Batman Song, the OTHER Batman song.
    Me: I don’t know another Batman song.
    Him: Yes you do. Sing it!
    Me: (Making up random batman lyrics to random tune…none of which I can remember to save my life)

    This would go on for hours.

  19. OK, Here’s my attempt.
    The tune is “Know This, That Every Soul Is Free”
    (The second verse is for my daughter, and the third is for my son)

    It’s time for bed my precious child.
    Although the day’s been fun and wild,
    Please close your eyes, don’t make a peep.
    You are so sweet when you’re asleep.

    We’ve played pretend and dress-up too,
    and Cinderella’s found her shoe.
    It’s time to sleep, please don’t say “no”
    Because your mother loves you so.

    We’ve wrestled and played with your truck,
    then read about a silly duck,
    I’ve loved each moment with you, son,
    now go to sleep my little one.

    So here’s your kiss and here’s your hug.
    Under the covers warm and snug,
    Please stay asleep the whole night through,
    and know that Mom and Dad love you.

    It’s kind of long, I know, but like I said I end up singing for 20 minutes 2x a day to put the kids to sleep, so length really isn’t an issue. I’ll try it tonight. I hope it works.

  20. Nothing like waiting until the last minute for an entry. The truth is this hasn’t been a fabulous week, or I would have for sure claimed the button from my long-ago fame where I spent a glorious season on your sidebar. 🙂 I must do that today…

    Now, lullabies. I’m not a big singer, but I suppose I used to sing I am a Child of God and Love is Spoken Here to my babies. Probably all of my favorite Primary songs were sung at one point. My husband used to always sing:
    “I love you, a bushel and a peck,
    a bushel and a peck,
    and a hug around the neck…”
    to the girls. He still does it occasionally, and they patiently roll their eyes.

    I don’t sing to my girls anymore, I suppose they grew out of it. But, I did put into song what I say to my girls almost every night. Perhaps put to song, it will have a greater effect–we’ll see how it goes tonight. It is sung to Rock-a-bye Baby.

    Rock-a-bye, ladies,
    It’s time to stop
    Whispering and giggling;
    This is your last shot.
    If I hear you later,
    The other shoe falls,
    And you’ll sleep in the pantry-
    Cement floor and all!

    That’s my feeble attempt. If it works tonight, I may have to create ‘practice your piano’ and ‘do your homework’ verses…

  21. Just call me “Last Chance Sally”….

    Lyrics to other people’s tunes is my specialty, but I have to rely on our family legacy for this one. My great grandmother used to sing this little ditty to my grandmother when she was a girl, and it has passed on and on through the generations to my own children, and even my sixteen year old can’t go to bed until we sing this song. I wish I could describe the tune, but you’ll just have to use your imagination:

    Run along home, and jump into bed
    Say your prayers, don’t cover your head
    Just one more thing I’m saying to you
    You dream of me, and I’ll dream of you.

    Now, if you had a lyrical contest on rewriting pop songs for Girls Camp skits, then I’d be all over that in a HEARTBEAT!

  22. For your October 2009 post, I have heard additional lyrics to:

    Run along home, and jump into bed
    Say your prayers, don’t cover your head
    Just one more thing I’m saying to you
    You dream of me, and I’ll dream of you.

    (and then as I have learned it we have these lines too)

    Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. If they do bite them back, and then hit the sack! Good night.

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