I learnt this wee cradle song when when very young and it has remained a favourite. The story goes that when Prince Charles Edward Stewart was a fugitive in Lochaber, a local carpenter made a cradle for him to hide in when the redcoats came looking for him. The lady of the house sang him this lullaby and when the soldiers couldn’t find him they left.
Here’s an overview of the song and its style.
Maolruainidh Ghlinneachan was a silly wandering woman who forsook her child when a good fairy found it, and lulled it asleep with this song.
This interesting form of overlapping verse, in which each new stanza retains the last line of the previous one (not counting the refrain), is found also amongst Scandinavian ballads and the songs of French sailors. Such a verse-form suggests improvisation in the growth of these songs, whether or not the form itself may arise, as seems possible, from a former custom of two or more persons improvising verses alternately, each singer taking up the last line of his rival or companion and adding to it a new one of his own, which in turn the other must repeat, and pair with a second line. The words as well as the pattern of this pretty little song of Maolruaini suggest that it may easily be extended at the fancy of the singer.
The tune (though in a gapped scale) in which a sharp 6th occurs as a grace note resembles a Dorian.
The verse-form referred to above, is of course, a very favourite one in French poetry; it seems to be even more usual in Highland song. In Russia the form is very commonly found in folk-song.