Rock A Bye Baby Lyrics – Among the most common Mother Goose nursery rhymes used to make babies fall asleep are Hush Little Baby, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Rock-A-Bye Baby (Rockabye Baby.) Rockabye Baby has been around for a long time. Parents today sing this lullaby to their babies at night.

Rock A Bye Baby Lyrics Original Version

Here are the popular Rock A Baby lyrics:

Rock-a-bye baby

On the treetops.

When the wind blows,

The cradle will rock.

When the bough breaks,

The cradle will fall.

And down will come Baby,

Cradle and All.


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Rock A Bye Baby LyricsHistory Of Rock-A-Bye Baby

Rockabye Baby is one of many bedtime songs sung to children in the United States. The first print publication of this nursery rhyme was in Mother Goose’s Melody published in 1765. Although no one knows the actual identity of Mother Goose, she is generally believed to be Elizabeth Goose. This grandmother often developed rhymes and simple songs to comfort her grandchildren and their friends [1].

Although the words denote a rather sinister quality, theories behind the meaning of the lyrics vary widely. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 2768. This index is a database of around 200,000 references to nearly 25,000 songs that have been collected through oral tradition in English from all over the world [2].

As with many of the nursery rhymes, the origin and author of Rock A Bye Baby are not known. However, it has stood the test of time. Some theories on its origin include the following:

It is based on an English mother who would put her children in the bough of a tree while she worked.
Some believed that it was written by a pilgrim boy who observed Native American women rocking their babies in cradles made from birch barks suspended in trees. Author, Gerald Massey, in his book Ancient Egypt, claims the baby is the god, Horus [3].

Lullaby Qualities

It is unclear whether earlier versions of this rhyme follow the melody we know today. The simplicity of the music may be the lasting element of today ’s nursery rhyme. The nursery rhyme’s soothing and melodic tune can help a child fall asleep while rocking in a baby cradle. This song can also be combined with hand actions which aid in the development of motor skills with the emulation of the movements. Just as with many other lullabies, a verse or two can be substituted with lyrics that tell a more personal story.

Any song can be a lullaby provided that it is slow and rhythmic. A song can be composed specifically to be a lullaby, or a song can be a “functional lullaby” which is a song altered to serve that purpose [3].  The subject is not important; the melody is what matters. Lullabies can be about either hopes or fears. Hence, lyrics of getting hurt, fear of the cold or just not faring well are common. The understanding is that these fears are spoken in the comfort of a parent’s arms.


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Variations of Rock A Bye Baby LyricsVariations Of Rock A Bye Baby Lyrics

Just like with many other lullaby lyrics, there are several variations to this nursery rhyme.

Here is one version:

Rock a bye baby, on the tree top,

When the wind blows the cradle will rock.

When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,

And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Rock a bye baby, gently you swing.

Over the cradle, Mother will sing.

Sweet is the lullaby over your nest

That tenderly sings my baby to rest.

From the high rooftops, down to the sea,

No one’s as dear as baby to me.

Wee little hands, eyes shiny and bright,

Now sound asleep until morning light.

Rock a bye baby, on the tree top,

When the wind blows the cradle will rock.

When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,

And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Alternate Rock A Bye Baby Lyrics by Betty Kenny

Betty Kenny lived in England during the 17th and 18th centuries. She and her husband, Luke, lived in Shining Cliff Woods where they both worked. There, they raised a family of eight children. Their favorite spot in the woods was in the shade of a huge yew tree. As she worked, she placed her babies in a hollow in the tree.  It is reported that she sang this song to soothe her babies.

Rock a bye baby,

Thy cradle is green.

Father’s a nobleman,

Mother’s a queen,

And Betty’s a lady

And wears a gold ring,

And Johnny’s a drummer

And drums for the king.

Rock A Bye Baby Lyrics (Ad-libbed)

Blogger, Seb Maniford, wrote these lyrics in an effort to “soften” the original words. (circa 2012).

Rock-a-bye baby, on the tree top.

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.

And when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall

Down into the arms of Daddy so tall.

Rock-a-bye baby in the car,

Wheels going round and round so far,

And when the car stops and we take out the key,

We’ll all be back home in time for our tea.

Rock-a-bye baby on a bike,

Pedaling so fast to places we like

To the butchers and the bakers, to get our croissants,

Then off to the Hosting to play and sing songs.

Rock-a-bye baby on-a boat.

We like our toast and Marmite afloat,

But when we find out we’ve less tea than we thought,

We turn the boat round and head back to port.

Rock a Bye Baby Lyrics with A Positive Outlook

Here is a lovely version of this lullaby. It was created by  Amy Robbins-Wilson who is a strong believer in parenting with music.

Rock-a-bye baby here in my arms.

Though the wind blows, it means you no harm.

Sleep little baby close to my chest.

Angels watch over you as you rest.

Rock-a-bye baby; Mama loves you.

Puppy dogs bark, and kittens they mew.

Close your eyes baby; don’t you weep.

Mamma will hold you now as you sleep.

Dream little baby, safe on my arm.

I will keep you safe and warm.

Sleep little baby, no worries to hold.

You are a treasure more precious than gold.

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RockabyeRockabye, A Child’s Favorite

Versions of Rockabye Baby has been recorded in many different ways by favorite rock bands.

Rock A Bye Baby went mainstream and modern thanks to the British band, Clean Bandit.  The lyrics of their song, Rockabye, reflect the hardships of single, struggling mothers and any mom who simply wants to give her child a good life. This is completely relatable which is why this song touched more than one single mama. Clean Bandit has performed it live on national TV, and the song holds the title of being the 18th song in history to spend nine or more weeks on the Official Singles Chart (Official Charts Company.)[8] The version by Clean Bandit has proved popular by various string quartet tributes.

The Beastie Boys released Rockabye Baby! These were renditions of baby music recorded under the label of CMH Label Group.[9]

There is no doubt that Rock-A-Bye Baby, as well as other lullaby songs, is being utilized by parents and teachers alike to soothe infants and toddlers with its calming melody. Lullabies are an excellent way to bond with babies on an emotional level. These songs can also serve to further communication and musicality.

Just like with many other nursery songs, Rock a bye baby lyrics can be changed any time. This creates a more personalized song for little ones. Lullabies such as Rock-A-Bye Baby have earned the adoration of generations.

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Rock A Bye Baby Lyrics Resources:

[1]   Poetry Foundation; Mother Goose.
[2]   English Folk Dance And Song Society.
[3]   Song Facts; Album: Rockabye Baby (1872).
[4]   Songs For Teaching; Rock-a-Bye, Baby.

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