The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

When At Night I Go To Sleep

Evening Prayer from the opera Hansel and Gretel

Engelbert Humperdinck

Sandman is here!
Let us first say our evening prayer!

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.

Editor's Note:

This lullaby doesn't have anything to do with Christmas.  I first heard it, however, on a 3-record (LP) collection called "The Glory Of Christmas" which was issued by Columbia House in the 1960s. It is for that reason that this lullaby is included on this site (and also because I like it).

The theme of Guardian Angels guarding oneself at night is the basis for another carol and its variants. See:

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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