The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Last Night I Lay Me Down To Sleep

 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: J. E. Millard, D.D.

Music: Mr. Herbert Stephan Irons
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, Complete Edition, 1894), Carol #36

1. Last night I lay me down to sleep,
When all my prayers were said,
My guardian Angel round did keep
His watch about 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 rests in slumber, child,
Thy soul be free from sin!
Thy Angel near and undefiled,
Breathes all pure thoughts within.
The holy Christmas Tide is nigh,
The Season of Christ's Birth;
All Glory be to God on High,
And Peace to men on earth!

3. "For I and all the Heavenly Host
Were keeping watch of old,
And saw the Shepherds at their post,
And all the sheep in fold.
Then told we with a joyful cry,
The Tidings of Christ's Birth;
All Glory be to God on High,
And Peace to men on earth!

4. "He bowed to all His Father's Will,
The Lowly and the Meek;
And year by year His Thoughts were still,
Lost sinners for to seek.
He did not come to strive nor 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;
All Glory be to God on High,
And Peace to men on earth!"

Sheet Music from Chope

Sylvester's Note to Last Night As I Lay Sleeping:

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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