Something to listen to while you read. Sheet music available at Sheet Music Plus.
Hymn Titles: Lullaby, Jesus (a.k.a. Polish Lullaby, Sleep, Little Jesus, or Rockabye Jesus) and Infant Holy, Infant Lowly (a.k.a. Jesus Holy, Born so Lowly)
Tune Names: Lulajże Jezuniu and W żłobie leży
A few years ago while flipping through (don’t laugh) The Trapp Family Book of Christmas Songs, I discovered the gem Lulajże Jezuniu – a traditional Christmas carol (kolęda) popular in Poland that dates back to sometime between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. Although this carol isn’t in American hymnals (I haven’t even found a “standard” English translation for the text), the melody of this lullaby to the infant Jesus was so beautiful I knew I had to write a piano arrangement. (And I’m in good company. Polish composer Frédéric Chopin quoted Lulajże Jezuniu in the middle section of his Scherzo No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20.)
I paired Lulajże Jezuniu in this arrangement with a second Polish Christmas hymn that’s more familiar to American ears: Infant Holy, Infant Lowly. An old carol – dating back to the thirteenth or fourteenth century – Infant Holy, Infant Lowly wasn’t published until 1908 when it appeared in Spiewniczek Piesni Koscielne. In 1921, British music educator Edith M. Gellibrand Reed (1885-1935) translated the text into English and published it in the first volume of the music journal she edited, Music and Youth, giving us the carol we find in hymnals today.
Because both carols are gentle folk melodies, this piano setting is quite simple to evoke a serene mood during the boisterous bustle of Christmas. Enjoy!
Infant holy, infant lowly,
for his bed a cattle stall;
oxen lowing, little knowing
Christ the babe is Lord of all.