Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Mother's View of Lullabye

My mom wrote this about Lullabye.

I had already listened to “Lullabye” when we downloaded it on Friday night. After hearing it once, I cried. It’s those last lines, “Someday we’ll all be gone, but lullabies go on and on. They never die; that’s how you and I will be.” Maybe it’s the mommy in me. I thought, “Way to make me cry…again.” (“How Shall I Sing That Majesty” is the other one.) Yes, I’d heard the Billy Joel version. Nice. Yes, I’d heard the King’s Singers version. Really nice. But the Libera version is different. It’s better, so much better. That voice. So much sweetness and emotion. It makes you FEEL the song.

Our first guess was that the soloist was Josh, but the voice was too high for a nearly 16-year-old, so Lexi guessed Jakob. But I listened again to “Lullabye” then to Jakob singing “Lead Kindly Light” then to Josh singing “Faithful Heart.” Jakob’s voice is very similar to Josh’s - warm and throaty (don’t know how else to describe it), but Jakob’s voice just SOUNDS younger. The voice in “Lullabye” is more mature with a hint of vibrato just like Josh had in “Faithful Heart.” Since “Lullabye” was recorded last year with the rest of the Peace album, it DID seem to be a good possibility that it was indeed Josh.

Now the video. OK. Deep breath. And there you go! It IS Josh! I am very happy to see that Josh has another solo.

The video opens with a woman dressed all in black. Birds are chirping as she walks down a pretty but strangely empty street, enters a deserted school building and climbs the circular stairs to an attic room with 8 bare bed frames. The scene then flashes to that same, now much warmer, room filled with 8 little boys (Henry, Kavana, Luke – my has he grown!, Freddie, Mini James, Carlos, Cassius and Matthew R-A) and 2 big boys (Ben and Josh) all in nightshirts sitting on neatly made beds.

Josh begins to sing, “Good night my angel, time to close your eyes and save these questions for another day.” He glances at the woman, now at the door, who is their school marm or mistress, and she gives a knowing look. He has a music book in his hands. Ben is washing the little boys’ faces and hands. Josh sits on the bed with Carlos, Cassius and Matthew sweetly singing, “I promised I would never leave you.” Cue the tears. I knew what was coming. I saw THOSE pictures Libera released. “And you should always know where ever you may go, no matter where you are, I never will be far away.”

All the little boys start climbing into their beds. The school marm is now singing along. This may be the first time a woman has ever sung (albeit lip-synching) with Libera!  :)  Mini James presents his little, open palms to the woman to show her they are clean. Henry places his toy boat on his night stand. “And like a boat out on the ocean I’m rocking you to sleep.” We see Carlos snuggled in his bed with his teddy bear. He looks so darling. If I were Carlos’s parent, I would have that picture of him sleeping framed and on the wall. Then, out of embarrassment, he could make me take it down in a few years. :)  Also would have been a cute inside joke if it had been one of the Korean teddy bears (without the clothes, of course).

“Inside an ancient heart you’ll always be a part of me.” I’m not sure if Josh is singing this to the school marm or to the little boys. Now Cassius seems to dream of the boys playing war with swords and shields while Libera sings the most beautiful “Ahh’s” ever. This IS what boys do. When they are young, no matter a mother’s peaceful intentions, they’ll take any inanimate object and make it a gun or a sword. And then they grow up to be brave men who fight for their country. As the music swells we see Ben and Josh dressed as British World War I soldiers turning and leaving to go off to war. Then they are running; then they are falling. When Libera posted the still picture of Ben and Josh in uniform, many made innocent comments about how they looked ready for war or how their costumes were nice. When I saw the picture, I audibly gasped. To see such young men in uniform is all too shocking and real. So many went, many too young, and so many died. Britain had over 700,000 killed and over 1.6 million wounded in WWI. Perhaps I personalize it too much because I had a dad who got a Silver Star and a Purple Heart in France during WWII. Perhaps it’s that I have a 23-year-old nephew in the 101st Airborne. But they are all so very brave. They are why we are free.

Now the school marm, clearly mourning, is dressed in black again and walking through that cold, bare attic. We see an apparition of Freddie holding up his open palms to her then fading away. She picks up the music book, looks up and sees Josh in overalls standing in the corner singing, “Someday your child may cry and if you sing this lullaby then in your heart there will always be a part of me.” Now a smaller Josh is in uniform again on the right standing on 2 beds in his bare feet. Red flower petals begin falling down. Is it the blood he sacrificed and spilled or her tears? We see Josh with a smudged and dirty face singing, “Someday we’ll all be gone, but lullabies go on and on. They never die, that’s how you and I will be.” He fades away as she walks out in a path of red petals.

While the story is about bravery and the great toll war takes, it also seems to have another meaning for us Libera fans. There is this fleeting time in a boy’s life when he can sing in this lovely, clear treble voice. Not all boys can sing this well, but how many have this time pass by and we never realize that they CAN sing like that? This was brought to my attention this summer after the Libera US concerts. We went to my mother’s house to visit. My sister and her family live nearby. I had the cousins in the car, and Lexi had been indoctrinating them in the beauty of Libera. My 10-year-old nephew began to sing along to the CD’s. Sure the girls sang, and sang well, but my little nephew’s voice! Where did THAT come from? Why had no one noticed that he could sing THAT high? I mean really, really high! He was clear and right on pitch! We told him he needed to move to England so he could try out for Libera. The US doesn’t have that big tradition of boys’ choirs that England has. Most kids sing in a children’s choir at church, if they GO to church that is. And some sing at school, if their school can manage to emphasize music despite sports.

And then we hear Libera, and we get to hear those lovely, clear but fleeting treble voices. And then they grow up and their voices change. I actually hate the word “break.” Their voices aren’t broken; they’ve just changed. And we’re happy for them that they grow up. We wouldn’t want them to stay young forever. There are so many exciting things to do and learn in life. Being an adult is great. Having a man’s singing voice is very appealing in it’s own right.

Think of all the young voices through the ages who were heard in their times and then lost forever, only a memory to those who lived then. How wonderful that we have recordings and photos and videos of all of our children to remember what they looked like, how they sounded at a certain age. And how wonderful to have these recordings of Libera to remember how these boys looked and sounded at a certain age. How they changed and grew through the years. Thank you to all the boys for their years of practice and hard work. It looks like a lot of fun, but it still is time spent singing when they could’ve been outside playing. Thank you to their parents for chauffeuring them to practices, paying for music lessons and letting them travel so far away. And thank you to Josh, that beautiful child with the shining eyes and perpetually happy smile. If I could have a son, I’d want one just like you. I hope you are and always will be as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. Your parents must be so very proud of you. May God give you every blessing in life.


  1. What a wonderful summary of the video! You noticed many things that I didn't, so I'll have to go back and watch the video again. Thanks for taking the time to do this excellent write-up.

  2. Thank you for the beautiful review, Lexi's mom :)

  3. Oh, thank you tramj and Inna! So nice of you to stop by here. We love Libera, and it's so great meeting other people who love Libera, too! :)

  4. ---thank you for a very good review. we're both moms and i agree, josh is every mom's dream to have as a son. i've noticed him to be so well-mannered and reserved for a boy his age.

  5. it seems the video was made for your review rather than your review for the video...

  6. just an FYI, the red flower petals are poppy petals, an emblem of war and Remembrance Day.

  7. Thank you all for your kind and helpful comments. And I think you are right, Sofia. In the US, we also buy red poppies from the veterans on what we call Veterans Day. I rather like calling it Remembrance Day as the UK does. :)

  8. Read this post just now, thanks to Maarten from the Libera-Dreams forum. What a wonderful, insightful review! Like only a mom could interpret it. You're such a wonderful writer, Lauren! Awesome that your dad got a Purple Heart AND Silver Star, you must be very proud! This video is indeed a great reminder of the sacrifices our soldiers and their families make. Hope Josh gets to read this one day.. :)