“Rock-a-bye Baby” ‘s melody comes from a variant of the English satirical ballad “Lilliburlero”, a march that seems to have been known at the time of the 17th-century English Civil War.
In Derbyshire, England, local legend has it that the song relates to a local character in the late 18th century, Betty Kenny (Kate Kenyon), who lived with her charcoal-burner husband, Luke, and their eight children in a huge yew tree in Shining Cliff Woods in the Derwent Valley, where a hollowed-out bough served as a cradle.
“Rock-a-bye baby” lyrics
On the treetop
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
Cradle and all.
To download a free mp3, and music sheet with chords of “Rock-a-bye baby”, click here.
To download a printable lyrics PDF file, click here.