10 Classical Lullabies You Will Love to Sing

Find a Lullaby to Sing in Recital or at Home

Lullabies are a beautiful tradition that we love in our home. Obviously we are not alone, because many famous classical composers have spent time creating their own lullabies. Some of them may be familiar to you and others might be brand new.

01
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“Beautiful Dreamer” by Stephen Foster:

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Foster above all is accessible, lovely, and his songs are well-written for the voice. Another lullaby by him is “Jennie with the Light Brown Hair.” His songs have an air of timelessness like a folk tune. The lyric’s plea is for a dreamer to wake up and have a sense of longing. Buy from Amazon »

02
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“Songs My Mother Taught Me” by Antonín Dvořák:

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Though a Czech composer, the lyrics of Dvořák’s most famous song from his song cycle Gypsy Songs was written by a German poet named Adolf Heyduk. It is now commonly sung in Czech, English, and German. Dvořák is also known for his beautiful aria “Song to the Moon,” from his opera Rusalka which could easily fit into a set of lullabies as well.

03
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“Summertime” by George Gershwin:

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 Arguably Gershwin’s greatest achievement was his opera Porgy and Bess. The lullaby “Summertime” is sung in the opera at a slow tempo by a high soprano, which makes it challenging and appropriate for a feature song in a recital. You have probably heard other versions sung by jazz artists that bring it down an octave and speed it up. Whichever way it is sung, “Summertime” is a classic.

04
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“American Lullaby” by Gladys Rich:

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 American Lullaby” is included in one of my favorite songbooks of all time 15 American Art Songs compiled by Gary Arvin. The book includes a recording of piano accompaniments, which makes it a great purchase. What is unique about this particular lullaby is its upbeat, jazzy feel. The accompaniment moves right along and so does the song. Another lullaby art song, more difficult to find, is the Russian "Slumber Song," by Alexander Gretchaninoff.

05
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“Marias Wiegenlied” by Max Reger:

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 Though often sung around Christmastime, “Mary’s lullaby” is a beautiful and famous classical lullaby that can be sung during any season of the year. Reger composes beautifully for voice and the melody sings like a folk song. Most people will also at least recognize the tune, which makes it more accessible.

06
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“Evening Prayer” by Engelbert Humperdinck:

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 From Humperdinck’s opera Hansel and Gretel, which is also often performed at Christmas time, Evening Prayer is a duet sung by the two children when they are lost in the woods. Most of the song is sung in unison and the rest has very simple and beautiful harmonies.

07
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“Wiegenlied” by Johannes Brahms:

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No classical list of lullabies is complete without Brahm’s lullaby. There are lovely translations of it in English, but it sounds much more sophisticated to an English speaking audience when you sing it in its original German language.

Several other composers of lieder also wrote beautiful lullabies named “Wiegenlied,” which means lullaby in German. Probably the second best known is by Bernhard Flies, which was originally attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Franz Schubert’s is also quite beautiful with a folk-like feel, while Robert Schumann’s version is sung as a duet, more difficult, with a sad element to it. Hugo Wolf also wrote a more difficult and yet lilting Wiegenlied, as did Richard Strauss. I suspect you could pick just about any of the prolific lieder composers and find they composed a lullaby. With less of a literal sense of lullabies, Fanny Mendelssohn’s version of “Du Bist Die Ruh,” would fit well into a lullaby set.

08
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“Que Les Songes Heureux” by Charles Gounod:

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Also known as the lullaby of Jupiter, from the opera Philémon et Baucis. The God Jupiter comes down to Earth to verify that human kind is mostly evil. He finds one old, righteous, and happy couple that wishes to be young to live their lives together again. He sends them to sleep with this song, in order to grant their wish. Jupiter is a bass and the song is beautiful with either an orchestra or piano accompaniment. Buy from Amazon »

09
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“Oh! ne t'éveille pas encore” by Benjamin Godard:

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Also known as the lullaby of Jocelyn or commonly referred to as “Angels Guard Thee” from Godard’s opera Jocelyn. Arguably the most beautiful aria in the opera and sung by the leading tenor. In a recital, it would be a lovely addition with piano and violin soloist.

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“Solveig's Cradle Song” by Edvard Grieg:

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This lovely lullaby ends Grieg’s Peer Gynt, which is best known for “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” commonly played around Halloween time in the United States. Though a Norwegian text is available, often it is performed in German and sung by a soprano. While I have mentioned several arias in this list, many more beautiful lullabies were composed for opera. One is “Dormi, amor mio” from Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, also sung by soprano. For a more modern option, Alban Berg’s Wozzeck also includes a soprano aria called “Wiegenlied,” in Act 1, scene 3. Though the music is not calming, it certainly is a good contrast to other more traditional lullabies.