The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Last Night As I Lay Sleeping

Versions:
 Last Night As I Lay Sleeping

Last Night I Lay Me Down To Sleep
Last Night I Lay A-sleeping

The Angels Song (Version 2 of Last Night As I Lay Sleeping)
 The Boy's Dream ("Last night as I was laid and slept")

See also: When At Night I Go To Sleep
Guardian Angels

Words and Music: Unknown

Source: Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861)

1. Last night as I lay sleeping,
When all my prayers were said,
With my guardian angel keeping
His watch above my head;
I heard his sweet voice caroling,
Full softly on my ear,
A song for Christian boys to sing,
For Christian men to hear.

2. "Thy body be at rest, dear boy,
Thy soul be free from sin;
I'll shield thee from the world's annoy,
And beathe pure words within.
The holy Christmas tide is night,
The season of Christ's birth:
Glory be to God on high,
And peace to men on earth.

3. "Myself and all the heavenly host
Were keeping watch of old,
And saw the shepherds at their posts,
And all the sheep in fold.
Then told we with a joyful cry,
The tidings of Christ's birth;
Glory be to God on high,
And peace to men on earth.

4. "He bowed to all his Father's will,
And meek he was and lowly;
And year by year his thoughts were still
Most innocent and holy.
He did not come to strive or cry,
But ever from his birth,
Gave glory unto God on high,
And peace to men on earth.

5. "Like him be true, like him be pure,
Like him be full of love;
Seek not thine own, and so secure
Thine own that is above.
And still when Christmas tide draws nigh,
Sing thou of Jesus' birth:
Glory be to God on high,
And peace to men on earth."

Sylvester's Note:

The old religious belief that a guardian angel was appointed to watch over each bed, and that he occasionally held intercourse with the occupant, here forms the machinery of a carol. The composition probably dates back several generations. It is now immediately taken from an old carol-sheet, never before having been included in a collection.

Note that Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvester" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.

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