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;
Please angels watch me through the night,
And keep me safe till morning 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]

  • In James O'Barr's most famous comic "The Crow", the main character Eric Draven recites the prayer during the fight against Tom Tom.
  • 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 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".
  • "If I die before I wake" is followed by the line "at least in heaven I can skate" in the 2000 top 40 song Heaven Is a Halfpipe by OPM
  • 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"
  • "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep" was inscribed on the headstone of Amber Rene Hagerman in 1996 after her death.

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