Smile for a Saturday (A Beautiful Lullaby)

What a week it has been, for us here at Steady and we suspect for many of you. As the world can feel so fractured and broken, we wanted to pivot a bit for this week’s “Smile for a Saturday” to reflect a spectrum of emotion. Our selection is the Welsh lullaby Suo Gan (movie fans might remember it from Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun). It is a particularly haunting piece of music, and we believe, in its beautiful melodies and poetic lyrics, a springboard for hope, and ultimately a smile.

There is something about a lullaby that has the power to summon a wellspring of emotion, especially in anyone who has the memory of singing a favorite one to a young child. Even as children grow into adulthood, and have children of their own, just a few bars can transport us across the decades. Vivid images dance in our heads of small faces and distant rooms.

We at the Steady Team confess that this recording might bring forth a few tears. But hopefully they can be mixed with smiles of hope. That this particular version was played by a Slovenian youth symphony and sung by a wonderful young soprano, Ernestina Jošt, brings its own impetus for optimism. Isn’t it inspiring to see and hear young musicians embrace the musical tradition of another country to fill a concert hall, and the internet, with a moment of beauty? This song is hundreds of years old, but the words and music speak to us as if they were written yesterday. We are all much more similar than we are different, and songs like this are vivid reminders of our common humanity.

Note: We suggest clicking the close captioning (cc) icon in the bottom right of the video to get an English translation. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed. We have also included a transcript of the lyrics below.

(English translation)

Sleep child upon my bosom,
It is cosy and warm;
Mother's arms are tight around you,
A mother's love is in my breast;
Nothing shall disturb your slumber,
Nobody will do you harm;
Sleep in peace, dear child,
Sleep quietly on your mother's breast.

Sleep peacefully tonight, sleep;
Gently sleep, my lovely;
Why are you now smiling,
Smiling gently in your sleep?
Are angels above smiling on you,
As you smile cheerfully,
Smiling back and sleeping,
Sleeping quietly on my breast?

Do not fear, it is nothing but a leaf
Beating, beating on the door;
Do not fear, only a small wave
Murmurs, murmurs on the seashore;
Sleep child, there's nothing here
Nothing to give you fright;
Smile quietly in my bosom,
On the blessed angels yonder.