Walking in the snow on Rabbit Lane I began thinking about Christmas bells ringing from church towers all over the celebrating world. I pondered the many emotions associated with pealing church bells. Happiness in marriage. Sorrow in death. Fear in disaster. Hope that “all is well”. The Liberty Bell rang in joyful celebration of America’s independence. I composed this song about church bells at Christmastime, attempting to embrace all of these emotions, especially excitement at the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the World. Here is the sheet music for you to enjoy: Church Bells.
The mere thought of adding to the Christmas repertoire intimidated me from making the attempt. But one quiet evening, as Christmas approached, I began to think of the baby Jesus, and to hum. I thought of the star and the heavenly choir, of the Magi and their gifts, and of Mary holding her child wrapped in rags. The Christmas lullaby “Nativity” arose from my musings. Here is the sheet music for you to enjoy: Nativity. Sing it softly to your own little ones as you put them to bed.
My children, when they were young, liked to be put to bed with a song. I composed many little lullabies and songs, some of which are posted on this blog. I tried to compose tunes and lyrics that would sooth and inspire each child. But sometimes I composed something to just make them smile and laugh. “Dreaming” is one such song and contemplates a child’s nonsensical but humorous dreams, ending with mother’s call to wake up in the morning. I hope you enjoy it! Click here for the sheet music: Dreaming.
The lonely apple tree on our one-acre property had survived from pioneer days, had made it through the decades of when the property housed the old Mormon church. After pruning my apple tree, I was able to climb into its highest branches, whence I could gaze over the sloping valley toward the silver ribbon of the Great Salt Lake to the north and west, or look the other direction to the Oquirrh Mountains to the east and south. From high in my apple tree, and on my walks on Rabbit Lane, I contemplated many strange and wonderful and dreadful aspects of life and living. These thought slowly distilled themselves into my song Wandering, attached here for you to enjoy.
Caleb (2) and I, lying together on his bed, looked out the window at the moon, talking quietly. He asked rather suddenly, “Would you write me a song about the moon?” Well, I thought, I guess I could try. The notes came quickly, and soon I was humming a tune to him with occasional key words rising up. As the song came together, I imagined the moon and the stars being living entities giving their light to the universe under the direction of benevolent gods that also watch over sleeping children. Here is the link to the sheet music for Caleb’s lullaby, Moonlight. (See this lullaby referenced in the post Chapter 30: Good-Bye Harv in the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog.)
I composed the little song “Baby Zebra” to help baby John go back to sleep, laying spread-eagle on my chest, when what he really wanted was for his mother to nurse him back to sleep. He asked me for a “be-be ze-ba” song: Baby Zebra, and I obliged. The animal “zebra” can be replaced by most any other land animal, including elephant, ostrich, horse (horsie), or pig (piggie). Change a few words around and it can work for birds and dolphins, too. I hope you enjoy the song. Here is a link to the sheet music to Baby Zebra. (This song is referenced in the post Chapter 30: Good-Bye Harv of the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog.)
In a safe environment, a child can see the world with wonder. He or she encounters the smiles and waves of a parent, loose garden soil between the toes, butterflies on flower blossoms, and being tucked into bed with a story or a lullaby. I wrote the song “Look Out the Window” after one of my children called to me from an upstairs window while I worked in the garden. She was happy to see me–“Hi Daddy!”–and raced down the stairs to join me in the garden. Every child deserves to be safe and to be loved, and to see the world with wonder. Here is the link to the sheet music to Look Out the Window.
As Angie helped each child wind down to go to sleep over the years, she would sit on the side of their bed and ask, “What was your favorite part of the day?” They would talk about watching a Monarch butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, a picnic at the park, rollerskating, or a trip to see grandparents. That question seemed the perfect opening line of a lullaby. Walking on Rabbit Lane, I played around with a tune, and settled on beginning with my favorite interval, the octave (or perfect 8th). The melody and lyrics came as the weeks and months clocked by. This song celebrates all of the end-of-day conversations between parents and children about their special moments together. Sing it alone to your child or as a parent-child dialog, with you and your child taking turns singing portions of the song to each other as indicated in the score found at the link below. (For more on this song, see the post Chapter 24: Remembering the Day of the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog.)
Nature’s creatures make beautiful music, especially on a Summer night, whether it be crickets or katydids, Canada Geese in formation or a clucking hen settled on her eggs, the wind in the leaves or the rain tapping on the rooftop. And lullabies comfort the sleepless, fretting child. My Hannah turns nine years old today. In honor of her birthday, I am posting her favorite of all my songs (so far), called “Summer Night,” which celebrates nature’s music in a lullaby. Sing it to your children or grandchildren, or just hum it to yourself, and let me know how you like it. Here is the link.
I stopped to watch the pulsing airport beacon–my desert lighthouse–as I walked in the snow today on Rabbit Lane. White. Green. White. Green. “See that beacon?” I asked Hannah (8), whose gloved hand held mine while we gazed. “It’s like a lighthouse showing the way for ships in trouble to make for shore. Long before Hannah was born, I gazed out the window with Erin, then 5, as the old beacon bulbs swept slow arcs around the sky, lighting up the clouded underbelly of the sky. I imagined sailing ships rocking precariously amidst tumultuous waves, the sailors shouting commands and wondering how to obtain the shore in one piece. I also imagined their frightened families at home, wondering if they would ever see their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons again. With this troubled image in mind, I wrote this one-verse song about these sailors, nearly lost in the storms, coming home at last. (Read more about this beacon in Chapter 4: Desert Lighthouse on the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog.)
Hannah (8) has added me to her bedtime routine. “I was wondering,” she begins, “if you could maybe sing me a few short songs tonight.” I sit on the edge of her princess bed and sing her one of my little songs, or a song from my 1970 Mister Rogers’ Songbook, a prized if tattered possession. A song only takes a minute. But many nights I feel burdened and tired. The thought of answering to one more child’s needs sometimes overwhelms me. It’s just one song, I say to myself with a sigh, and succumb. From the first note I feel glad that I didn’t give in to the excuse of being weary. A song only takes a minute. Here is one of my favorite songs. I wrote it years ago in response to a child’s request for a song from Dad. It is sweet, calming, and, best of all, short. The perfect lullaby for nights when Dad just needs to say “good-night” and go be by himself, or go to bed. I hope that you will sing it to your little ones. If you are so inclined, sing it through twice. A song only takes a minute.
Brian, my firstborn, suffered typical colic from about six weeks to about six months of age, always beginning at 6:00 p.m., it seemed. A second year law student (and struggling with the stresses of law school), I frequently paced the living room floor trying to sooth the crying baby with gentle bounces, soft shushes, coos, and random soft melodies. In Brian’s moments of calm slumber, I looked on his beautiful face and felt overcome with feelings of love, peace, beauty, and gratitude. In these serene moments I began to compose a lullaby, metered to the my rocking arms. Although Brian is now a 6-foot-4 24-year-old, I think of his once tiny form every time I sing this song. Here it is for you to enjoy. While I have titled it “Little Brian Baby” in my own book of music, for you I have titled it simply “Little Baby” and have added brackets in the lyrics indicating where you can insert the name of your child or grandchild as you sing. Enjoy this lullaby as you rock your precious little ones to sleep. (To see the score, click on the link below.)
–Only small people seek to make other people feel small.–
Our first night in the country house, the children all slept in mom’s and dad’s room. We offered this arrangement until they felt comfortable sleeping in their own rooms. One night several weeks after moving to her own room, Erin (5) couldn’t sleep.
“Daddy,” Erin called in a loud whisper.
“What?” I moaned groggily after a moment.
“The lightning is keeping me awake.”
“What lightning?” I yawned. “I don’t hear any lightning.”
“No—look—it’s flashing right now, without thunder or rain,” she persisted.