One Night as I Lay on My Bed
"One Night As I Lay On My Bed" is a traditional folksong.
A young woman lies in bed thinking of her lover. She hears him tapping at her window, asking to be allowed in. She warns him that her parents will hear them. He replies that they are sound asleep. She lets him in.
The theme of the song is so common in the UK, USA and Canada that the phrase "Night-visiting song" has been coined to cover all possible versions. This category is so huge that even minor variations are classed as being a different song. "Cold Haily Windy Night" has the same story but takes place in the rain. It is Roud 135. "Blow The Candle Out" has the same story but has the discussion taking place inside the bed rather than outside the house. It is classed as Roud 368. In addition there is "The Grey Cock" (Child 248, Roud 179) where the couple are woken by a cock, and "I'm A Rover" (Roud 3135) where alcohol is a significant element.
A fragment of a song in Johnson's "Scots Musical Museum" inspired Robert Burns to write a fuller version, published in 1803.
Romeo and Juliet is the best-known story to contain the theme of a secret sexual liaison.
- Roud 672
- Laws M4
"Drowsy sleeper" in Bodleian 1817.
The song exists under the titles:
- Go From My Window
- The Drowsy Sleeper
- Farewell to Bonny Galaway
- Katie Dear
- Darling Corey
The tune for "Darlin' Corey" (Roud 5723) is similar to one of the tunes for "Drowsy Sleeper". Most versions concern a hard-drinking woman who is fond of moonshine, and avoids hard work. One version, as sung by The Kingston Trio, has the chorus "Wake up, wake up, darlin' Corey. What makes you sleep so sound? The revenue officer's a comin', gonna tear your still house down." This might possibly be a relic of its origins in the song "Who's that Knocking on My Window". It could be considered as a female version of "I'm A Rover".
The opening paragraphs of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights might have been inspired by the song, but in this case the lover is a ghost.
Television and movie references
Sung by Dick Dewey (James Murray) and the rest of the church choir to Fancy Day (Keeley Hawes) in Nicholas Laughland's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Under the Greenwood Tree", 2005.
|Blue Sky Boys||1938||Katie Dear|
|Carter Family||1938||Who's That Knocking On My Window|
|At the Cafe de Paris||Marlene Dietrich||1954||Go 'Way from my Window|
|Singing Family of the Cumberlands||Jean Ritchie||1955||Awake Awake Ye Drowsy sleeper|
|I Wander As I Wander||John Jacob Niles||1958||Go 'Way From My Window|
|Hedy West||Hedy West||1963||Awake Awake|
|Old Love Songs and Ballads||Dillard Chandler||1963||Awake Awake|
|Four Strong Winds||Ian and Sylvia||1963||Katie Dear|
|Joan Baez 5||Joan Baez||1964||Go 'Way From My Window|
|Early Morning Rain||Ian and Sylvia||1965||Awake Ye Drowsy Sleeper|
|Manchester Angel||Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger||1966||One Night As I Lay On My Bed|
|Hark! The Village Wait||Steeleye Span||1970||One Night As I Lay On My Bed|
|Adieu To Old England||Shirley Collins||1974||One Night As I Lay On My Bed|
|Abyssinians||June Tabor||1983||One Night As I Lay On My Bed|
|The Rose in June||Louis Killen||1989||One Night As I Lay On My Bed|
|Voices in Harmony||Swan Arcade||Go From My window|
|Lady Diamond||Bryony Griffith & Will Hampson||2011||Arise, arise|
- "Silver Dagger", made famous by Joan Baez, is a related song. (Baez also recorded "Go 'way From My Window")
- "The Grey Cock" is another night-visiting song.