|I had a great response an article I published on a the origin of a lullaby called “The Sandman”. It seems that this song has been kept alive for over 100 years by parents singing it to their children from generation to generation. This song is well known in my family and we have always wondered where it came from or who wrote it. It also seems that my family was not alone. Families from all over the English speaking world have also been keeping this song alive, including New Zealand, Scotland, England, USA and Canada. Many of them have also searching for the origin of this song.|
You can read their stories and see the lyrics of their versions at this link:
My father found the first evidence of the true origin of this song on a kid’s music chat site. There we discovered that the song could have been written my one Lucine French in 1899 but we needed confirmation. That is where my Aunt Margaret came into the story and here is her saga:
This lullaby was sung to my mother, (born in 1909 in London, England, before my grandparents came to the USA, and then Canada) and her sisters by my grandmother. My mother sang it to my siblings and me, and they sang it to their children, who are now grown-up, and they sing it to their children. We never knew where it came from. At one time one of my maternal aunts said she would write one of the “home and country” in the UK to see whether anyone recognized it, but she never did write.
In 2006 I e-mailed my siblings and maternal cousins to see whether any of them knew where it came from. My brother-in-law picked this e-mail up, and he traced the song to a web-site, which attributed the song to Lucine Finch, a Birmingham, Alabama children’s writer,who had copyrighted the song in 1899. The original words found by my brother-in-law differed a little from the words we were using- not surprising that the words had drifted a little over the almost 100 years the song had been in our family.
Because the song had originated in the USA, I went to the web-site of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and asked whether they could find the song. After several weeks, a music specialist in the music division of the Library Congress located the song in a book by Poulsson, Emile: HOLIDAY SONGS AND EVERYDAY SONGS AND GAMES (1901), photocopied the music with all the words (we knew only the first verse) and mailed it to me.
I was very impressed that she was able to track this sheet music down and now we could finally see how the song was originally written. Our family had omitted the second verse and added many beats to various points in the melody but the notes in the melody were almost all the same.
Here is the original text:
The Sandman by Lucine Finch 1899
Here comes the Sandman stepping so lightly,
Stealing along on the tips of his toes;
And he scatters the sand With his own little hand.
In the eyes of the sleepy children.
Oh! hear the Sandman singing so softly.
Singing the children to sleep everywhere.
See how drowsy they grow;
Tired heads drooping low,
And hear the sandman singing.
Go to sleep my children, close your sleepy eyes.
The lady moon is watching from out the dark’ning skies.
The little stars are peeping to see if you are sleeping.
Go to sleep my children.
Go to sleep goodnight.
So there it is the original text. I have recorded a new version of the song which I will be releasing on a reissue of my cd called “Elephants Have Wrinkles”. My brother-in-law Alan Gasser who is a lyric tenor sings the melody and I play the guitar. I think it is a lovely rendering of the song. I’ll make a post here when it is out.
If you would like to see the music you can download it from this link:
Putzer Family version: