Lullaby announces babies’ birth
When people visit a hospital, they might not expect to hear the sweet song commonly known as Brahms’ Lullaby playing over the intercom. But at St. David’s Georgetown Hospital, that’s what they’ll hear each time a baby is born.
When Hugh Brown became chief executive officer at St. David’s Georgetown in 2007, his mission was to create a “warm and friendly” community hospital. A staff member suggested playing the lullaby each time a baby is born. Mr. Brown had wanted to implement a similar tradition at his former hospital, but he didn’t have the resources to make it happen.
Johannes Brahms’ “Cradle Song,” originally published in 1868, provides the well-known melody that’s a perfect fit to announce a birth. The hospital contacted award-winning world music composer and local Georgetown resident Daniel G. Benes to produce a short clip of the song. Daniel donated his studio time to produce several versions of the melody using different instruments. His goal was a rendition that wouldn’t “torture the nurses and doctors every time it played.” The final version, chosen by committee, starts off with a single bell tone. The sound is so surprising at a hospital that it immediately captures people’s attention. Then the glockenspiel begins to play the familiar melody, accompanied by harp and strings.
Shortly after a baby is born, the nurses hand the new mom a remote control. When she pushes the button, the lullaby plays inside and outside the hospital, announcing her child’s birth. Parents of multiples are allowed to play the song for each child. Families love the chance to spread their joy, and Mr. Brown says returning moms ask if they will get to “push the button.”
The lullaby is not only a hit among new parents. Many hospital staff and patients are also fond of the new tradition. Mr. Brown says that even during board meetings, people “can’t help but stop and listen . . . everyone gets a smile on their face.” Oncologists in the cancer center say that when the lullaby plays, they notice an attitude change in many of the patients lined up in chairs to receive chemotherapy. The patients know what the lullaby means, and they often enjoy sharing the new parents’ happiness.
The next time you visit St. David’s Georgetown Hospital, keep an ear out for the sound of the opening chime. Then stop and listen. Georgetown has welcomed a new member of our community.