Lulla, lullaby, my sweet little baby (William Byrd)

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  • (Posted 2017-07-03)  CPDL #45263:         
Editor: James Gibb (submitted 2017-07-03).   Score information: A4, 6 pages, 89 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Transposed down a tone. Time signature changed to 2/2.
  • (Posted 2006-11-17)  CPDL #13100:         
Editor: Brian Russell (submitted 2006-11-17).   Score information: A4, 8 pages, 66 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Transposed down a tone. NoteWorthy Composer file may be viewed and printed with NoteWorthy Composer Viewer.
  • (Posted 2004-02-25)  CPDL #06782:  Network.png
Editor: John D. Smith (submitted 2004-02-25).   Score information: A4, 6 pages   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Transposed down a whole step from the original and voiced as SAATB. Scores listed alphabetically by composer. All scores available in Scorch format, some are also available as PDF files.
  • (Posted 2002-12-09)  CPDL #04339:        (Sibelius 4)
Editor: David Fraser (submitted 2002-12-09).   Score information: A4, 7 pages, 131 kB    Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Original key of published version (D minor/dorian). Revised March 2008.

General Information

Title: Lulla, lullaby, my sweet little baby
Composer: William Byrd
Number of voices: 5vv   Voicing: SAATB
Genre: SacredPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

    Manuscript 1580 in Dow Partbooks, no. 114-115
First published: 1588 in Psalmes, Sonnets and Songs, no. 32

External websites:

  • Free choir training aids for this work are available at Choralia.

Original text and translations

English.png English text

My sweet little Baby, what meanest Thou to cry?
Be still, my blessed Babe, though cause Thou hast to mourn,
Whose blood most innocent to shed the cruel king has sworn;
And lo, alas! behold what slaughter he doth make,
Shedding the blood of infants all, sweet Saviour, for Thy sake.
A King, a King is born, they say, which King this king would kill.
O woe and woeful heavy day when wretches have their will!
Lulla, la-lulla, lulla, lullaby.

Three kings this King of kings to see are come from far,
To each unknown, with offerings great, by guilding of a star;
And shepherds heard the song which angels bright did sing.
Giving all glory unto God for coming of this King,
Which must be made away — King Herod would Him kill.

Lo, lo, my little Babe, be still, lament no more:
From fury Thou shalt step aside, help have we still instore;
We heavenly warning have some other soil to seek;
From death must fly the Lord of life, as lamb both mild and meek;
Thus must my Babe obey the king that would Him kill.

But thou shalt live and reign, as sibyls hath foresaid,
As all the prophets prophesy, whose mother, yet a maid
And perfect virgin pure, with her breasts shall upbread
Both God and man that all hath made, the Son of heavenly seed,
Whom caitiffs none can 'tray, whom tyrants none can kill.