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[citation needed]on 8th March 1711. It says:[citation needed]

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 Thee Lord, my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray Thee Lord, my soul to take
If I should live for other days
I pray Thee Lord, to guide my ways
Amen

<poem>


<poem>

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]

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.