Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

Sweet was the song for Choir and Organ


Sweet was the song is a traditional English carol dating from the 16th century depicting the Virgin Mary singing a lullaby to the newborn Jesus. This setting reflects the text with gentle rocking phrases, static harmonies and a simple melodic line. The music is coloured by soft dissonances, conveying a sense of mystery and uncertainty. Tempo fluctuations in the chorus should have a natural, expressive quality. This piece is taken from a larger work An Old Belief which deals with the subject of religious faith in times of crisis.


The work was first performed by Twickenham Choral Society, conducted by Christopher Herrick with the composer (organ) on 25th March 2013.


Duration: 4 mins


Listen to a performance of the work here: Sweet was the song (4’09)


Published by Boosey & Hawkes, available here.



Sweet was the song the Virgin sung,

When she to Bethlem was come,

And was deliver’d of a son,

That blessed Jesus hath to name.

Lullaby, lullaby, ‘Sweet Babe’, sang she.


‘My Son and eke a Saviour born,

Who hast vouchsafed from on high

To visit us that were forlorn,

Lulla, lulla, lulla.’

Lullaby, lullaby, ‘Sweet Babe’, sang she.

And sweetly rocked him on her knee. (Anon.)


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