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 the 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 it's 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]

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