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A Classical Lullaby: “All the Pretty Little Horses”

It’s Sunday again, so that means that it is Sunday Lyrics Sunday! This week’s prompt is about “Cowboy/Gun/Hat/Horses/Western”, given by our wonderful host Jim at A Unique Title For Me. Now, when you see “cowboy”, “gun”, “hat”, and “horses” together, you think this is all going to be about American Western-type of songs like Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West”. (sorry “West End Girls”, you are another type of “west”). Well, my choice isn’t really Western, but more about American traditional songs.

(By the way, in response to last week’s Song Lyrics Sunday, Tomomi Kahala gave birth to her first kid, a song, the end of last month. Both mom and baby are happy and healthy!)

A Classical Lullaby About Horses

“All the Pretty Little Horses” is a traditional American lullaby. The origins are unknown with some believing that it is of African-American origin. Author Lyn Ellen Lacy theorizes that the song was “originally sung by an African American slave who could not take care of her baby because she was too busy taking care of her master’s child. She would sing this song to her master’s child.”[1]  

I first heard this lullaby when I was in college, performing a choral rendition during one semester of college choir. I don’t remember which arrangement we used (as there are many versions), But. at the first moment that I encounter this song, I fell in love with it. It is a hauntingly beautiful song as it is placed in the key of D minor. But also, how one sings this song is also beautiful: in a quiet volume. Listen for the climax as it beautiful as well.

There have been countless modern renditions of the song by many artists. I picked three of various backgrounds.

Kenny Loggin’s “All the Pretty Little Horses”

P.S: Please listen to his kid’s album “Return To Pooh Corner” if you have a chance. It is an AMAZING one! Great for kids too!

Peter, Paul & Mary’s “Hush-A-Bye”

Olivia Newton-John’s “All the Pretty Little Horses”


The Lyrics Behind “All the Pretty Little Horses”

Hush you bye, Don’t you cry,
Go to sleep, little baby.
when you wake,
You shall have,
all the pretty little horses.
Blacks and Bays,
dapples and grays,
All the pretty little horses.
Hush-a-by, Don’t you cry,
Go to sleep, my little baby

Way down yonder
In the meadow
Poor little baby crying momma
Birds and the butterflies
Flutter ’round his eyes
Poor little baby crying momma

Hush-a-bye, Don’t you cry
Go to sleep, my little baby
When you wake, you shall have
All the pretty little horses
Dapples and grays, blacks and bays
All the pretty little horses

Hush-a-bye, Don’t you cry
Go to sleep little baby
When you wake, you shall have
All the pretty little horses
Dapples and grays, blacks and bays
All the pretty little horses


The Rules

If you want to participate, here are the rules:


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References

[1] Lomax, John, and Alan Lomax. “All The Pretty Little Horses”. New York City: Ludlow Music Inc., 1934.