My grandmother sang a song to all the babies and toddlers in our family entitled, "Lady Moon." This was a lullaby used to entertain the little ones. I never thought much of the song because it was not a catchy tune, the words didn't mean very much, and no opera singer needed to be concerned that Grandma would take over their role. I never learned the words to the song. We also never heard this song from any other source. Until today I thought that Grandma had made up the words or changed them so much that the original would not be recognizable.
Last week my mother was reading the book, Her Face in the Mirror / edited By Faye Moskowitz. (Boston, MA : Beacon Press, 1994) The book is a collection of biographical and autobiographical stories about Jewish women. One story, "Mother, I hardly knew you," by Letty Cottin Pogrebin caught my mother's attention. Ms. Pogrebin mentions that her mother sang a lullaby, "Old Lady Moon." My mother wondered if this was the same song that her mother sang. Music was a catalyst that reminded Ms. Pogrebin of her childhood. She remembers the songs of the Haggadah and the classical music from radio station WQXR. My mother turned to me for help finding Ms. Pogrebin's email address. I did a Google search for the author's name and didn't find the email address. I did find biographic material about her. I then searched in the data base, Literature Resource Center and found her name easily. I was pointed to Pogrebin's biography in Contemporary Authors Online. (Detroit: Gale, 2005.) I sent my mother the address on Monday.
Immediately my mother sent an e-mail to Pogrebin. On Tuesday night my mother reported back that a reply was received. The song Pogrebin remembered started "O' Lady Moon, so fair and bright." This is not the same song as my Grandma sang. The first line of the song she sang was, "Lady moon, Lady moon Sailing up so high." I used Books.Google to search for the composer and lyricist.
The song is mentioned in the article, "First steps in language development" / by Harriet Luddington in the periodical The American teacher (vol 4:3, 1890) Luddington says that the singing the song was a good way to help with language development in kindergartners. The full text of the lyrics appears in Pinafore palace by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, Nora Archibald Smith (New York : Grosett & Dunlap, c1907) on pages 222-223. I found an alternative name for the song is: "The moon and the baby." Searching for this title led me to the full musical score in : The songs and music of Friedrich Froebel's Mother play / by Friedrich Fröbel, Susan Elizabeth Blow (New York: Appleton, 1903). The composer is Freidrich Fröbel and the lyrics are by Kate Kellogg. There is a note that the song is from: Songs for Little Children for the kindergarten and primary schools, by Eleanor Smith. Springfield, Mass., Milton Bradley Co., 1887. This book is a fully viewable using Books.Google.
Freidrich Fröbel (1782 - 1852) was well known for the founding of the kindergarten in Germany. Many Germans, trained in his methods emigrated to the United States and started the first kindergartens for children of German immigrants. In 1873 William T. Harris superintendent of the St. Louis public schools was the first to integrate kindergartens as part of the public school systems. His curricula included reciting poems and singing songs as a way of expanding language skills.
My grandmother probably learned, "Lady moon" in kindergarten in St. Louis. By the time my mother was in kindergarten they were no longer singing it. The song that I thought my grandmother was the only one in the world to know is really one of many songs a 19th century German education reformer wrote to help young children learn language.
Here is the version of the song transcribed from a video recording of my grandmother.
The Moon and the Baby
Here is the version from Kate Kellogg
The moon-light says