Now I lay me down to sleep: origins of our favorite childhood prayer.


‘Now I lay me down to sleep’, a romantic litany memorized by millions of children, originated in the eighteenth century, taking many forms over the years.

A take on the famed traditional four line version, this shortened rendition invokes feelings of security and preservation under the sovereignty of the supernatural, alone, without reminding us of the impermanence of life and the assurance of deaths’ certainty.

I pray the lord my soul to keep.
Let the angels watch me through the night,
Til’ I wake with the morning light.

The earliest version, written by a dude named ‘Joseph Addison’, goes something like this:

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.

the prayer I grew up reciting:
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. Amen.

… the full-form reading:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
Bless me Lord my soul to take.

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.

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.

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