Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep…


This delightful old English prayer said by children and their parents at bedtime has long ago been shortened to only its last verse. There is more (as I was taught):

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,

Bless the bed that I lie on.

The are four corners to my bed,

Four angels round my head,

One to watch, and one to pray,

And two to bear my soul away.

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.

If you know more of the tradition of this prayer please share it.


  1. says

    Thanks for providing more of the prayer than I was accostomed to. It reminds me of:

    Evening Prayer from the opera Hansel and Gretel

    Engelbert Humperdinck

    When at night I go to sleep,
    Fourteen angels watch do keep:

    Two my head are guarding,
    Two my feet are guiding,

    Two are on my right hand,
    Two are on my left hand,

    Two who warmly cover,
    Two who o’er me hover,

    Two to whom ‘tis given to guide my steps to heaven.

  2. Patty in WA says

    Many children who learn only the last for lines these days learn this:

    Now I lay me down to sleep;
    I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
    Thy love guard me through the night,
    And wake me with the morning light.
    This is to remove any reference of scary death. My son was taught this version in Sunday School; when I told him the “scary” version, he insisted that we switch because THAT was something worth praying.

    Here is a piece of trivia for you: John Adams, the second president of the US, said this prayer every day of his life.

  3. says

    I used to sing “All night, all day” to my daughters when they were small, which has the last four lines as its verses:

    Chorus: All night, all day
    Angels watching over me, my Lord
    All night, all day
    Angels watching over me.

    When I lay me down to sleep (Angels…)
    I pray the Lord my soul to keep (Angels…)


    If I die before I wake (Angels…)
    I pray the Lord my soul to take (Angels…)

    I wish I’d known the “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John” part so I could have sung that too, they could never get enough of it!

  4. says


    I like the fourteen angels. The more the merrier. I was once told that a priest was given 4 extra angels to aid him in his ministry. I often send mine out to rouse the faithful from their slumbers and urge them to Church while I am in the altar doing the Proskomedie and praying for each of the souls in my parish. So if any of my parishioners feel an extra tug on Sunday morning….