A Sumerian Lullaby

Live performance by The Lyre Ensemble, at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, London, June 2015, with Stef Conner singing her own setting of a Sumerian text from the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 4000 years ago!). No-one knows how to pronounce Sumerian, but it would be a shame too let a little thing like that stop us singing it!

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Text:

A lullaby for a son of Šulgi

1. Ah, ah
2. may he grow sturdy through my crooning,
3. may he flourish through my crooning!
4. May he put down strong foundations as roots,
5. may he spread branches wide like a šakir plant!
6. Lord, from this you know our whereabouts;
7. among those resplendent apple trees overhanging the river,
8. may someone who passes by reach out his hand,
9. may someone lying there raise his hand
10. My son, sleep will overtake you,
11. sleep will settle on you.
12. Sleep come, sleep come
13. Sleep come to my son
14. Sleep hasten to my son
15. Put to sleep his open eyes
16. Settle your hand on his sparkling eyes
17. As for his murmuring tongue
18. Let not the murmuring spoil his sleep

Source: The Oxford Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (Sumerian transliteration available here: http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/…).

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  1. Hello. I was curious if you are selling the sheet music for strings for this song. It’s very beautiful, and would love to learn to play this. Been really enthralled with the music from this lost time.

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