Voice for the Formosan Parents – the Lullaby (搖嬰仔歌)

I recently completed a first draft of new orchestra composition which is a Theme & Variations on a famous Taiwanese lullaby, 搖嬰仔歌. I have found many variations in the translation of this melody’s title , “Cradle Song”, “Voice for the Formosan Parents – the Lullaby” or simply “the Lullaby”.  My wife sings this melody to our daughter every night and calls it “Rocking the baby”, my daughter just calls it “sleep song.”  We though it was an old Taiwanese folk song but when I started to do research on it I found it is a modern song. It was written in 1945 by the famous Taiwanese composer, 呂泉生 (Lu Chuan-sheng). Professor Lu was known as the Father of Taiwan Children’s Choir  because he was dedicated to promoting Children’s choir for 50 years as well as writing over 200 composition.  I have read a few stories about the events inspiring the writing of this piece:

In May 1945 during WWII, the allies bombarded Taiwan heavily to fight against Japan.  Master Lu evacuated his wife and 3 months old infant to the countryside of Feng Yuan, his hometown.  He stayed in Taipei and worked in Taipei Broadcast Bureau.  As the night fell, Master Lu’s longing for his wife and new born son inspired the song. The song has a wonderful simplicity that expresses the traditional attitude all Chinese parents have toward their children. It extols the hardships and high expectations experienced during child rearing.

My wife translated the lyrics which where written by Master Lu
father-in-law as:
The version of this melody I’m using for my composition is a little different as it is a transcription of the way my wife sings it to my daughter, but I have found this copy online of the original after I completed my piece.
A baby Sleeps
Growing one inch a night
Sweet baby
growing one foot a night
Rock the baby until sunset
staring at the baby in my arm
you are my sweetheart
worry you’ll get cold
cherish the baby like gold
It’s a great responsibility to bring up a baby
If only you get married, my duty will be relieved.

Sheet music to the lullaby

Sheet music to "the lullaby"

Master Lu Chuan-sheng passed away in the United States March 17, 2008 but generations long after will be still learning his songs to perform in concerts. I hope he would have enjoyed my composition inspired from his.


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4 Responses to “Voice for the Formosan Parents – the Lullaby (搖嬰仔歌)”

  1. […] (more information on this melody and Master Lu is available in an earlier post) […]

  2. Ahmed Czyzewski says:

    Without doubt! nice

  3. Rachel Chang says:

    Hi Michael! My family is from Taiwan and I’m in a choir here in Hoboken, NJ (cantigas.net) — and my choir director came upon a Taiwanese lullaby on YouTube, and I think this might be it… the link to the sheet music seems to be broken… could I trouble you for the link if you might have it… or any other title or way we could go about locating it? Thanks!

  4. mcooke says:

    搖嬰仔歌 is the title of the work, you can search on that. I have a few translation of it in the article. A cd I have with this song, it is translated as “Lullaby.” Or you can search on the composers name, 呂泉生 (Lu Chuan-sheng). He was a famous choral composer.

    http://www.hyes.tyc.edu.tw/~sk7/s40.htm google translation

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