Video recording of Sleepy Song by Musica Intima:
The Story of the Song and Traditional Teachings about Lullabies
(compiled by Dr. Darlene Auger and my family)
As part of traditional Cree parenting practice, lullabies are sung by mothers, aunts, grandmothers and big sisters to the infants as they are swung in a wîwîp’son, a moss bag or held in the arms and rocked. The melodies were hummed or words of love, comfort and descriptions of the baby’s preciousness were sung.
This lullaby is inspired by one that my great-grandmother sang to my father when he was a child. While he no longer remembers the song, he speaks of the memory of being sung to as he was swung in a traditional baby swing called wîwîp’son. A wîwîp’son is a swing constructed of two parallel ropes or thick sinew mounted over the parents’ bed and tied to two opposite tipi poles. Cloth or hides were wrapped around the rope/sinew to act as a cradle and rock the baby. Parents can pull the rope while still lying in bed and swing the baby when it becomes fussy. The wîwîp’son is still used today in modern bedrooms.
When babies are in the womb surrounded by the mother’s bodily fluids, the soothing sound of “swish- ing” is heard by the baby (the mother’s blood in the veins, digestion and body movements). In The Sleepy Song, the swishing is represented by the rattles.
This lullaby was created in the spirit of my great-grandmother’s lullaby to soothe the spirit and the child within us all and is featured on Dr. Darlene Auger’s album Cree Women in Lullaby – Volume I listed as Nohtehkwasôwinis (A Sleepy Song).
Go to sleep, I love you.