Night Time Prayer

A few nights ago, when I was tucking in little Elsa (my five-year-old daughter), I remembered a prayer I would say when I was younger.

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

I thought it would be a great idea to teach Elsa the prayer.  Of course, when we got to the part “If I should die before I wake,” Elsa started to cry and said, “This is a sad prayer.”  I tried to reassure her by telling her we are all in God’s care, but she has decided that she does not like this prayer and refuses to learn it.

Once I finally calmed Elsa down enough to fall asleep, I did a little research on the old prayer.  I found a few interesting facts.  President John Adams would recite this prayer, which he learned in his childhood, every night before falling asleep until his death July 4, 1826.  How old is this prayer?

A version of the prayer originally showed up in text in Thomas Fleet’s New England Primer in 1737.  This version read:

Now I lay me down to take my sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take

The above version is similar to the one I learned, but not exact.  In 1781, Thomas Fleet’s New England Primer republished the prayer.

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

That’s the prayer I remember!  Now that I found out where the pray came from, I looked for a version that removed the “If I should die” part.   It did not take long to find one.  Elsa must not be the only one who does not like the morbid part.

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

This might be a prayer that Elsa will like.  Tonight will be the first night I try it with her.  Did any of you say this prayer at night before bed?

 

 

 


Thank you for reading! Please check out my recent Children’s picture Book “The Fifth Day Sea Creatures.” The 32 page book is the first in a series I am working on to explore the seven days of creation. this book highlights the majestic sea creatures God created on the fifth day of creation. The book is designed for young children, but the pictures can be enjoyed by everyone.