Rocking Carol for String Quartet – The ‘Rocking Carol’ (often simply called ‘Rocking’) is a Czech Christmas carol that appears on the second album of carols from the Manor House String Quartet entitled ‘It Came Upon The Midnight Clear and other carols’. You can click on the link and here a sample of the group playing it. It begins with the lines ‘Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir; We will lend a coat of fur, We will rock you, rock you, rock you. . .’ and this insistence adds to the charm of the lullaby. Like the ‘Sussex Carol’ and ‘O Little Town Of Bethlehem’ the tune wasn’t collected and committed to sheet music until the twentieth century. It also bears a close resemblance to ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ but I couldn’t say whether it predates the famous childrens’ song.
When arranging this particular carol, violinist Vaughan Jones found that simplicity was the key. It was one of the most difficult ones to do as the melody didn’t harmonise easily: the tune didn’t imply a very interesting harmony so needed to go through several drafts before it sounded ‘right’.
You can also purchase the sheet music of Vaughan’s arrangement for the combinations of string quartet and string orchestra here: