Slumber my Darling

Cheyenne Mother
Edward S. Curtis - circa 1900

Nobody can surpass the gorgeous rendition of this song by Alison Krauss with Mark O'Connor, Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma (no less!). I don't come vaguely close but I love the song so much I can’t resist.

The legacy of Stephen Foster is mixed at best. So many of his songs are nostalgia pieces that celebrate the lost Eden of plantation life in the antebellum south. That nostalgia included, of course, slavery. Some songs, like “Ring, Ring de Banjo!" and “Old Kentucky Home”, depict aging “colored folk” pining for the old days and sweet old “massa.” Others such as “Uncle Ned” and "Old Balck Joe" are just irredeemably racist.

And yet he gave us wonderful songs like “Hard Times” and “Slumber my Darling” that we can't bear to throw out with the rest. This was not an enlightened man but a wonderful composer for all that.

Instrumental note: Behind the mandolin. I added two backup tracks with our Martin parlour guitar. It's just right for this music. On the second track I lowered the sixth string to C and fith to G which makes a nice drone effect.

Lyrics: 

Slumber, my darling, thy mother is near,
Guarding thy dreams from all terror and fear,
Sunlight has pass'd and the twilight has gone,
Slumber, my darling, the night's coming on.

Sweet visions attend thy sleep,
Fondest, dearest to me,
While others their revels keep,
I will watch over thee.

Slumber, my darling, the birds are at rest,
The wandering dews by the flow'rs are caressed,
Slumber, my darling, I'll wrap thee up warm,
And pray that the angels will shield thee from harm.

Slumber, my darling, till morn's blushing ray
Brings to the world the glad tidings of day;
Fill the dark void with thy dreamy delight--
Slumber, thy mother will guard thee tonight,

Thy pillow shall sacred be
From all outward alarms;
Thou, thou are the world to me
In thine innocent charms.

Slumber, my darling, the birds are at rest,
The wandering dews by the flow'rs are caressed,
Slumber, my darling, I'll wrap thee up warm,
And pray that the angels will shield thee from harm.

Instruments: 
Tuning: 
standard
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