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The Sound of Shh

Apparently, according to my infallible son, the reason why parents say “shh” when they are trying to console a crying child, is because ‘shh’ is the first sound that children ever hear in the womb. Before they hear the sound of their parent’s voice, they hear the sound of their mother’s blood swooshing rhythmically through a multitude of blood vessels, such that with every heartbeat is the sound of shh. The theory is that when children are distressed, they are immediately comforted by these maternal sounds. (Maybe that why their father’s “Get over it!” doesn’t quite cut it in this area of consolation.)

I must say that the whole thing sounds plausible, except that the information comes via my son, who often drops “little gems from the web” into our evening meal conversations; and so I do reserve the right to be dubious.

But there is a verse from the Old Testament book of Zephaniah that may tip the balance in his favour. God is pictured there as consoling His people, singing to them, and quieting them in His love. This Hebrew verb, ‘to quiet’, is the word charash, which carries the concept of deliberately holding back one’s criticisms and intentionally keeping silent, out of love, in order to foster peace. Prominent in the articulation of the word, is the sound of shh, which has the tantalizing connection to my son’s theory, and might just be the lovely echo of the heartbeat of God.

DM 23rd April 2022


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