שירת-ערש | Shirat Eres | Lullaby (1912)
Artist: Abraham Zvi Idelsohn (1882-1938)
Tune: Ashkenazic Melody
The text of this song was published in the anthology Mikraot Le-Talmidim Be-Vet Ha-Sefer U'Be-Vet Ha-Av, edited by Ben-Ami (Odessa: 1905, p. 35).
The Hebrew text echoes a Yiddish lullaby, "A-Mol Is Geven a Mayse" [A Legend from the Past], also known as “A Mayse” [A Legend]. In the Yiddish version, a mother sings her child a song about a king and queen, a vineyard, and a bird. Here, the legend has a tragic end: the king dies, the queen is forced to leave the vineyard, the bird leaves the nest, and the tree branches break. The mother asks for God’s mercy as she soothes her child to sleep.
The Hebrew version presents a king of Israel and his queen, who plant a vineyard. A tree grows in the vineyard, and a bird with silver wings and soft feathers builds her nest in that tree. The bird’s feathers fill a silk-covered pillow that is used to pad a cradle (verses 1-5). The cradle, made of gold, holds a sleeping prince (verse 6). The song concludes with the image of the cradled child beneath the moonlight, protected by angels while his mother sings him this lullaby (verses 7-8).
The lullaby contains eight verses. Verses 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8 are sung to the first melodic phrase, and verses 3 and 6 are sung to the second melodic phrase. The melody resembles the Yiddish one, in a minor key with an augmented second, a typical interval and mode of Eastern European Jewish music, also known as the Ahava Raba mode.