A Lullaby: Slumber My Darling

Stephen Collins Foster was the genius of American music in the 1800s.  He wrote a number of popular tunes which are still played today.

However, his life was anything but the American song lyric. He was born to William and Elisa Foster on the hills overlooking the Allegheny River near Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. He had nine siblings.  By the death of the tenth child James, he became the youngest.

From an early age he showed an interest in music.  Perhaps, he was encouraged by his mother since she appreciated music.

Stephen wrote many songs—somewhere between 200 and 300, based on references.  In the link below one can read and listen to a number of them.

He died before his 38th birthday in New York City.  Circumstances surrounding his early demise have included the innuendos and rumors often associated with artistic people who die at an early age. As we know, this is also true in our day, that celebrities who die young have a mythos created around them where truth and fact are difficult to discern.

Now to the title of this post:

Recently I was listening to Andre Rieu’s Christmas Around the World.  I had not listened or watched it previously.  This is a beautiful Christmas piece if you enjoy Christmas music.

One of the songs is Slumber, My Darling by the lovely Suzan Erens.  To the best of my knowledge I had never heard the song before Suzan sang it.

Doing a bit of research I discovered that it was written by Stephen Collins Foster.  Perhaps, he wrote for his daughter Marian, his only child.

It is a lullaby which parents have sung or whispered to their children since it first appeared in 1862.  As they watch their sleeping child every parent hopes to guard that child from “all terror and harm” and prays that “sweet visions” attend their sleep.

For many children and parents this is the reality of their nights.  The “angels” have shielded them from all harm.

When we flip this coin of reality, we see the other side of twilight where “morn’s blushing ray” and “the glad tidings of day” are shadows, dark shadows, and specters in a reality which no child or their mother should have to endure.

There are many mothers around the globe who hope and pray each night that their baby sons and daughters will have a peaceful slumber.  Unfortunately, most mothers cannot guard their babies from “all terror and fear”.  Sadly, many babies and children are not shielded from harm by angels.

The earth is a fragile piece of exquisite art hanging in the majesty of space.  Humans who hate, rape and kill take the beauty of innocence and leave it as a shattered dream, a discordant lullaby on the road of life as they march to the beat of the war drummer.

History has shown that mothers and children suffer the most from want, poverty, famine and war.  The human pestilence of war leaves a barren, sterile landscape. Even the moon offers a more habitable home than the place where poverty, war and famine have ravished.

G. D. Williams © 2013

POST 519

Stephen Collins Foster (July 4, 1826-January 13, 1864)





Slumber My Darling

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.

 Suzan Erens: Slumber My Darling