Enjoy this sparkly melody while looking at stars in the night sky.


Twinkle, twinkle, little star

How I wonder what you are.

Up above the world so high

Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

How I wonder what you are.

The history of nursery rhymes includes a persistent myth that Mozart composed "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" at the tender age of four or five. That Mozart was a prodigy isn't in doubt, but the truth is that the lyrics really come from a poem called "The Star," written by British sisters Ann and Jane Taylor. In 1806, the poem appeared in a book titled -- appropriately for a book of nursery rhymes -- Rhymes for the Nursery.

The melody of this favorite among sing-along songs dates back even further; it originated in France and was first seen in print in 1761. Lyrics were added later in the century, but not in the genre of nursery rhymes or nursery rhyme songs. The music was first paired with the lyrics of a melodramatic love poem called "Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman" (which translates to "Ah! Will I tell you, Mother") in the 1770s. A parody version about a love of sweets came along too, and it is still popular among French children. Mozart entered the picture in 1781, when he penned a variation.

No one knows exactly when the Taylor sisters' poem was first married to the familiar melody, though they seem to have appeared in print as a complete song as early as 1838. It has since cemented a place among children's nursery rhymes, been translated into other languages, and become a classic sing-along worldwide.

Of course, the "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" lyrics aren't the only words that have been set to this tune. There are Hungarian and German holiday carols set to the same music, and the popular "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" and "The Alphabet Song" have a similar whimsical string of notes -- a good thing to know for parents who want to mix up their sing-along lyrics rather than repeat "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" over and over again.

Perhaps it's the simple melody or the universal imagery of a twinkling star in the night sky -- plus the innocent child's wonder and awe at its beauty -- that allows this song to transcend so many miles, languages, ages, and generations. Whatever the reason, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" has become a classic lullaby that parents sing to their children as they tuck them snug into bed and kiss them goodnight.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

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