“Mary’s Lullaby (Tonight You Are Mine)”

Text by Bertha Anderson Kleinman (1877-1971). Music by Wanda West Palmer (1930-).

I discovered this song on The Lower Lights’ latest album, Sing Noel, which released this week. Their rendition, with three-part harmonies and guitar accompaniment, is lovely indeed: reverent, earthy, and sweet. Follow the link to purchase the track, or if you have a Spotify account, you can listen below.

 

For non-Spotify users, here is a video performance by YouTube user iammischief:

 

“Mary’s Lullaby” really humanizes the Nativity event. All the grand, flashy details that are so familiar to passers-on of the story—of angels and kings, shepherds and stars—are deemed secondary to the profound yet simple intimacy shared between mother and son. Mary knows that Jesus belongs to the world—“but tonight,” she says on the night of his birth, “you are mine.” Let angel, man, and beast adore you in their own ways, but I give you the adoration of a mother.

As she sings Jesus to sleep, Mary pleads with God to delay for as long as possible the agony that she knows they will both one day face. She tries to suppress the portents of her son’s death so that for at least this one night, all will be perfect. 

According to a 2005 article in the Payson Roundup, Bertha Kleinman wrote this poem in 1967 at the request of a friend, who needed material for a Christmas program; she titled it “A Yuletide Lullaby.” The poem was passed on to Wanda West Palmer that month so that she could set it to music, but she ended up pocketing it for later. Two years later, she rediscovered it in her purse while in a beauty parlor and was instantly inspired. She wrote the music in her head on the spot. The song was eventually performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the recording of which is available on CD. As I said before, The Lower Lights also offers a fabulous recording of their own, with Cheri Call on lead vocals.

Below are the lyrics, along with a piece of art that provides further substance for reflection on the subject of the Mary-Jesus bond.

Fan Pu, The Nativity, 2002. Chinese papercut.

Fan Pu, The Nativity, 2002. Chinese papercut.

All mine in your loveliness, Baby, all mine;
All mine in your holiness, Baby Divine.
Sing on, herald angels, in chorus sublime;
Sing on and adore, for tonight you are mine.

The wise men are coming to worship their king.
The shepherds are kneeling, their homage to bring.
Out yonder, the star over Judah will keep;
No harm can befall thee, then sleep, Baby, sleep.

Oh, let me enfold thee, my baby, tonight;
While legions are singing in joyous delight.
A new star has risen to hail thee divine,
For you are a king, but tonight you are mine.

Away, spectered future of sorrow and plight.
Away to the years that must follow tonight.
The pangs of Gethsemane, let them be dim;
The red drops on Calvary, not, Lord, for him!

Oh, let me enfold thee, my baby, tonight;
While legions are singing in joyous delight.
A new star has risen to hail thee divine,
For you are a king, but tonight you are mine.

All mine in your loveliness, Baby, all mine;
All mine in your holiness, Baby Divine.
Sing on, herald angels, in chorus sublime;
Sing on and adore, for tonight you are mine.

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6 Responses to “Mary’s Lullaby (Tonight You Are Mine)”

  1. brazilian says:

    I’ve been surfing on-line more than 3 hours nowadays, yet I never found
    any attention-grabbing article like yours. It’s lovely value enough for me.
    In my view, if all site owners and bloggers made just right content as you probably
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  2. bj says:

    I enjoyed your singing and piano playing.

  3. Jamie says:

    can you tell me where you found the sheet music to this song. You did amazing!

  4. Pingback: “Tonight You are Mine” | Provident Living

  5. Marcus says:

    I just love this song. Very personal between a mother and child, yet it shows how much Mary knew about her child, which one day would suffer, bleed and die for us, but would also conquer death and become King of Kings, Lord of Lords.
    Beautiful. Thankyou for sharing.

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