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 8 March 1711. It says: [1]

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.

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.[2]

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.

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 amen.[3]

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.

This can be edited:

Now 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.[3]

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[4]

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take,
All the angels watching over me.
Amen.

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

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep:
Watch and guard me through the night,
Until You bring 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. [Parodic]

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
For if I die before I wake,
Let me thank you in advance. [Parodic]

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.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

The Doors performed a part of this prayer live in New York in 1970 as an added verse to their song Soul Kitchen.

In James O'Barr's most famous comic "The Crow", the main character Eric Draven recites the prayer during the fight against Tom Tom.

The prayer is also known for being used in the bridge of Metallica's hit "Enter Sandman" from their 1991 eponymous album.

Also, Circle of Dust used edited version of this prayer in track "Prayers of a dead man" from their 1994 album "Brainchild"

Coincidentally, it was used in the opening lines of rival Megadeth's 1991 song "Go to Hell" from the soundtrack to the 1991 film Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.

In "Murder was the case", a song from his debut album Doggystyle, Snoop Dogg included a verse where you can hear this prayer.

American singer-songwriter, Halsey, used this prayer in the opening lines of her hit single, "Nightmare".[6]

Rapper and songwriter XXXTentacion also used the poem in his song "before I close my eyes", from his album "?".

The musical, Carrie (musical) had the poem featured in the middle of the song “Evening Prayers”, featuring the lyrics “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I die, before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

In 'A nightmare of Elm Street 4: Dream Master' A rhyme based on this prayer was used to defeat Freddy

American metalcore band Ice Nine Kills use another version of this rhyme in the bridge of their song "Communion of the Cursed", on the album "Every Trick In The Book"

Rapper Calboy also used this rhyme in the beginning of his song Envy Me

American rapper Kid Cudi features the latter two lines of the rhyme repeatedly in the hook to his song "The Prayer," on his debut mixtape A Kid Named Cudi.

The prayer is also mentioned in Margaret Atwood’s novel The Testaments.

The WWE used some lines of the prayer for the entrance theme of The Undertaker in 2000.

The phrase "I pray the Lord my soul to keep" appears in Bob Dylan's song "Roll on John" from the album "Tempest".

In episode 3x10 (Fathers and Sons) of Blue Bloods (TV series) at 30 minutes they say: "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"

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Spectator Vol. I, 1729
  2. ^ The New England Primer Archived 10 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine, 1750 ed., p. 23.
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ James Limburg (2006), Encountering Ecclesiastes: a book for our time, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, p. 103, ISBN 978-0-8028-3047-0
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Nightmare, retrieved 15 June 2019