SongNotes Treasures: A Cradle in Bethlehem

J. O’Reilly Productions, Cultural Arts and Blog
J. O’Reilly Productions, Cultural Arts and Blog
SongNotes Treasures: A Cradle in Bethlehem
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The voice of an angel.

Jamie and Meg, 1983

LISTEN here to A Cradle in Bethlehem


SongNotes Treasures
A Cradle in Bethlehem
Christmas Lullaby
Jamie O’Reill
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I first learned A Cradle in Bethlehem, the 1960 Nat King Cole classic in 1986, for a radio show I was singing live. It was mid-December and we were at the Old Town School of Folk Music. My second daughter, Epiphania (Nia) was born at home just a few weeks before. My band, Jamie O’Reilly & the Rogues played a lovely arrangement of A Cradle in Bethehem, on guitars, bass and wood flute. I sang it to my children.

Having just given birth December 4, it was something! Baby Nia got a mild case of chicken pox from a neighbor, and her sister, four-year old Meg, had a serious eye infection. The show-must-go-on was our way back then, so the girls came with me to the gig. The concert featured Odetta as the headliner. We shared the stage for the Silent Night finale. Odetta and me holding hands, weeping as we sang…”Sleep in heavenly peace.”

Every Christmas season for over 40 years, I host a caroling party, missing only a few years, (most recent being the first pandemic year). A large chorus of voices – all great singers – walk the street, bringing the neighbors our goodwill.

(Watch the family sing Auld Lang Syne on video)

Who would have thought that world as we knew it would be gone forever?

Pre-Covid, we jammed on folk songs in my living room late into the night. After most of the guests were gone, a small group of us sat with only the Christmas tree for light, and I sang this lullaby: A Cradle in Bethlehem. My late sister Beth Ann, her husband Paul (who plays guitar here), our children, and soon my grandchldren.

Who would have thought that world as we knew it would be gone forever? How fortunate we have this recording. I am lost in the story, with Michael Smith on guitar, distinguishing the tune as only he did. And Paul, our steady companion, accompanying so beautifully as he has done for most of my life.

Dedicated to my daughters Margaret Jamie, Epiphania Kathryn, and newborn Marias, born to Maximanova Greenberg, December 4, 2021


A Cradle in Bethlehem & the SongNotes Treasures Series

Fans! This listen-only option is free-of-charge. To download send an email to jamie@jamieoreilly.com
BUT you can contribute to SongNotes Treasures, Jamie’s project blogging and making available songs and recordings. Scroll through past Songnotes Blogs, listen and read the histories.

Giving levels are Gold: $15. Frankincense $25. And Myrrh $50.
Use See PayPal link, or Zelle a contribution to jamie.joanjor@gmail.com

Gold :
Frankincense :
Myrrh :

A Cradle in Bethlehem
Words and music by Alfred Bryan and Larry Stock
Sing sweet and low a lullaby
Till angels say Amen
A mother tonight is rocking a cradle in Bethlehem
While wise men follow through the dark a star that beckons them
A mother tonight is rocking a cradle in Bethlehem
A little child shall lead them
The prophets said of old
Thru storm and tempest heed them
Until the bell is tolled
Sing sweet and low your lullaby
Till angels say Amen
A mother tonight is rocking a cradle in Bethlehem


Recorded live December 2003.
WFMT Fine Arts Radio Levin Studio
Folkstage concert, Rich Warren, Host
Produced with support from Peter and Nancy Clark

Single cover art by Nia O’Reilly Amandes

© J. O’Reilly Productions