Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

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World War I poster of the United States

Now I lay me down to sleep is a classic children's bedtime prayer from the 18th century.

Text[edit]

Perhaps the earliest version was written by Joseph Addison in an essay appearing in The Spectator on March 8, 1711. It says:

When I lay me down to Sleep,
I recommend my self to His care;
when I awake, I give my self up to His Direction,
     Amen.

A later version printed in The New England Primer goes:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray to Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.[1]

Other versions[edit]

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
His Love to guard me through the night,
And wake me in the morning's light.[2]

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
May the angels watch me through the night,
and keep me in their blessed sight.
Amen

Lord I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
thy angels watch me through the night,
And keep me safe till morning's light.[2]

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Angels watch me through the night,
And wake me with the morning light.
Amen[3]

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Guide me through the starry night,
Wake me when the sun shines bright.
Amen

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Guide me safely through the night,
Wake me with the morning light.
Amen

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
When in the morning light I wake,
Show me the path of love to take.
Amen

(Additional third verse)
If I should live another day
I pray the Lord to guide my way.
Amen

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
For if I die before I wake,
that's one less test I have to take.

It is sometimes combined with the "Black Paternoster", one version of which goes:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless the bed that I lie on.
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head;
One to watch and one to pray
And two to bear my soul away.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (organization) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that offers complimentary remembrance photography to families grieving after a stillbirth or the death of an infant.[5]
  • If I Die Before I Wake is the title of a 1938 crime novel written by Sherwood King which served as the basis of the Orson Welles film The Lady from Shanghai.[6]
  • Shel Silverstein parodied the prayer in his 1981 book A Light in the Attic with a poem titled Prayer of the Selfish Child.
  • Aerosmith paraphrases the prayer as "Now I lay me down to sleep, goodnight/Pray the Lord my soul to keep tonight" in their song "Darkness".
  • Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle open their classic Chicago House track "Baby Wants to Ride" with the first part of this prayer.[7]
  • Sky Ferreira paraphrases the lyric as "and laid awake,/Pray the Lord my soul to take" in her song "Sad Dream"[8]
  • Kid Cudi paraphrases the lyric as "And if I die before I wake,/I pray the Lord my soul to take" in his song "The Prayer"[9]
  • Kanye West paraphrases the lyric as "As I lay me down to sleep" in his song Only One[10]
  • Metallica paraphrases the lyric as "Now I lay me down to sleep/I pray the lord my soul to keep/And if I die before I wake/Pray the lord my soul to take" in their song "Enter Sandman"[11]
  • Megadeth paraphrases the lyric as "And if I die before I wake/Pray the lord my soul to take" in their song "Go to Hell"[12]
  • Aloe Blacc paraphrases the lyric as " And Now I lay me down to sleep/I pray the Lord my soul to keep/And if I die before I wake/there must be a mistake, Lord take me back" in his song "Take Me Back"[13]
  • TobyMac paraphrases the lyric as "If I should die before I wake/I pray the Lord my soul to take/And if I should get a peaceful sleep/I wanna wake at my Father's feet" in his song "Captured"[14]
  • The Civil Wars paraphrase the lyric as "Still can't lay me down to sleep/If I die before I wake/I know the Lord my soul won't take" in their song Barton Hollow.[15]
  • In the 1984 slasher movie A Nightmare on Elm Street Nancy Thompson, played by Heather Langenkamp, recites the prayer before going to sleep to confront Freddy Krueger in the Dream World.
  • A little girl recites the prayer to keep herself safe from the monster she sees in the 1986 slasher movie Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
  • Sir Psycho Sexy by Red Hot Chili Peppers uses an alternate version of the rhyme.[16]
  • Christina Aguilera paraphrases the lyrics as "Now I lay me down to sleep/I pray we'll meet inside my dreams/If I should go before I wake/I pray our souls will join again" in her song "Little Dreamer".[17]
  • In Michael Grant's book, "Plague", Dekka recites this prayer with Hunter in his last moments before Sam euthanises him with a deadly beam of light because of the "greenies", parasites which were eating Hunter alive.
  • Snoop Dogg interpolates the whole prayer in his song "Murder Was the Case" from his debut album, Doggystyle.[18]
  • HIM paraphrases the lyrics with some different words in their song "Buried Alive By Love, "If I should die before I wake/Pray no one my soul to take/If I wake before I die,/Rescue me with your smile" from their album Love Metal.[19]
  • Frank Wilson samples part of the prayer in his Northern Soul song "Do I Love You, Indeed I Do" .[20]
  • Notorious B.I.G. paraphrases the lyrics as "Now I lay me down to sleep/Pray the Lord my soul to keep/If I should die before I wake/I pray the Lord my soul to take" in the title song of his album "Ready To Die".
  • Dalton Trumbo uses the sentence "Now I lay me down to sleep" in his book Johnny Got His Gun, in both sections Book I: The Dead and Book II: The Living.
  • 2Pac paraphrases the lyrics as "Now I lay me down to sleep/I pray the Lord my guns to keep/If I die before I wake/I pray the Lord my soul to take" in the song "When Thugz Cry", which was scrapped from the album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory and put at the end on his demo album The Don Killuminati: The 3 Day Theory. The song later appears on one of 2Pac's posthumous albums; Until The End of Time, and also featured in his posthumous documentary film, Tupac: Resurrection.
  • G-Eazy paraphrases the lyrics as "Yeah, lonely nights I laid awake / Pray to lord, my soul to take" in his song "Me, Myself & I".[21]
  • The song "Crazy World" from the 1991 album "House of Exile" by Lucky Dube includes the entire prayer.[22]
  • OPM uses a variation of the prayer on their 2000 album Menace to Sobriety for "Heaven Is A Halfpipe" as "If I die before I wake at least in heaven I can skate" [23]
  • Pirates of the Mississippi uses a variation of the prayer on their song "Feed Jake," a country hit in 1991. During the first part of each chorus—as "Now I lay me down to sleep / I pray the Lord my soul to keep / If I die before I wake/ Feed Jake, he's been a good dog"—an elderly man express hope that if something should happen to him and his dog (the titular Jake) survives him, Jake will be taken care of.
  • Sweethearts of the Rodeo use the prayer in the bridge of their song "Midnight Girl/Sunset Town," a country hit in 1987, to express a young woman's restlessness of living in a small, backroads town with old-fashioned values ("Now I lay me down to sleep/I pray the Lord my soul to keep/If I should die 'fore the world turns 'round/Lord, don't leave me in this one horse town ... ").
  • In The Simpsons episode "Lisa's First Word," there is a scene where a 3-year-old Bart goes to bed in a new-but-poorly designed clown bed created by Bart's father, Homer. As a frightened Bart tries to go to sleep, he imagines the headboard—one that because of its poor design resembles an evil clown—coming to life and with evil cackling reciting the prayer, ending with "If you should die before you wake ... " before tormenting and trying to attack Bart.
  • In the 1940 MGM animated short Puss Gets the Boot, Jinx the mouse recites the prayer as he gets caught by Jasper the cat after his scheme fails.
  • Ernest Hemingway wrote a short story titled "Now I Lay Me".
  • In the 2001 Survival horror game Silent Hill 2, the prayer is backmasked into one of its ending songs "The Reverse Will" [24]
  • The character of Stuart Larkin, played by Michael McDonald (comedian) on Mad TV, recites the prayer near the beginning of a sketch referred to as "Stuart and the Tooth Fairy".[25][26]
  • Belgica Wave Party uses the New England Primer version of the rhyme in their song "The Wave".

References[edit]

  1. ^ The New England Primer, 1750 ed., p. 28.
  2. ^ a b Debbie Trafton O'Neal; Nancy Munger (1994), Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: Action Prayers, Poems, and Songs for Bedtime, Augsburg Books, p. 6, ISBN 978-0-8066-2602-4 
  3. ^ James Limburg (2006), Encountering Ecclesiastes: a book for our time, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, p. 103, ISBN 978-0-8028-3047-0 
  4. ^ I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), ISBN 0-19-860088-7, pp. 357–60.
  5. ^ "Homepage - Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep". Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. 
  6. ^ "The Lady from Shanghai (1948) - Articles - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. 
  7. ^ Frankie Knuckles - Baby wants to ride. 30 May 2008 – via YouTube. 
  8. ^ Sky Ferreira - Sad Dream (Official Video). 30 October 2012 – via YouTube. 
  9. ^ "Kid Cudi - The Prayer Lyrics - MetroLyrics". 
  10. ^ "As I lay me down to sleep / I hear her speak to me". Genius. 
  11. ^ "ENTER SANDMAN LYRICS - METALLICA". 
  12. ^ Megadeth - Go To Hell. 12 March 2009 – via YouTube. 
  13. ^ "ALOE BLACC - TAKE ME BACK LYRICS". SongLyrics.com. 
  14. ^ "CAPTURED LYRICS - TOBYMAC". 
  15. ^ "The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow Lyrics - MetroLyrics". 
  16. ^ "Red Hot Chili Peppers - Sir Psycho Sexy Lyrics - SongMeanings". SongMeanings. 
  17. ^ "Christina Aguilera - Little Dreamer Lyrics - MetroLyrics". 
  18. ^ "Now I lay me down to sleep / I pray the Lord, my soul to keep / If I should die, before I wake / I pray the Lord, my soul to take". Genius. 
  19. ^ "Him - Buried Alive By Love Lyrics - MetroLyrics". 
  20. ^ "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)". AllMusic. 
  21. ^ "Yeah, lonely nights I laid awake / Pray to lord, my soul to take". Genius. 
  22. ^ LUCKY DUBE - Crazy World. 14 December 2012 – via YouTube. 
  23. ^ "OPM - Heaven Is A Halfpipe". 
  24. ^ Silent Hill 2 OST - 'The Reverse Will' (Backmasked). 6 November 2009 – via YouTube. 
  25. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIDJDkbutGk
  26. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPQNi-paxDk