lords prayer words - traditional and contemporary prayers

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
May angels watch me through the night,
And wake me with the morning light.


source: traditional

(note: this version of the prayer is noted as the most popular modern day version in p.103 of 'Encountering Ecclesiastes: A Book for Our Time' By James Limburg)

About this prayer

The first written form of this prayer is thought to occur in 1711, in the writings of Joseph Addison in the Spectator, where we read:-
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.

At a later stage, the poem takes on the following form in the eighteen century educational textbook ,"The New England Primer", and becomes the popular traditional form of this prayer:-
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.

(note: on occasions the word "shall" in the third line becomes "should" in vernacular forms of this prayer)

Many other forms of this prayer exist and this page at yahoo answers list several of them.

The prayer has also featured in several contemporary songs, such as "Enter Sandman" (Metallica) and "The Prayer" by Kid Cudi.

Questions about this prayer

A question over the prayer in it's early form

"If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take".

It is questionable whether we would want to encourage children to contemplate their own death shortly before going to sleep. Whilst we might want to cultivate a healthy fear of God in children (e.g. that God is awesome and infinitely all-powerful) this needs to presented in the context of God being all-loving:-

"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment".

(1 John 4:16-18, NIV)

Is "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" in the Bible?
In a similar way to the 'Serenity Prayer', this famous children's prayer is not in the bible, but does allude to a bible verse in the Book of Psalms:-

"When I lie down, I go to sleep in peace; you alone, O Lord, keep me perfectly safe."

Psalm 4:8, (GNT)

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