Yes, it's morbid. But where'd it come from?

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

Brrrrrr. Nasty.

But I’m damned if I can trace its origins anywhere. Does anyone have a good folklore library around? When and from whence did this little prayer originate?

Well, it’s old. That much is clear. But it doesn’t seem to have a good source. Just appeared in a primer once upon a time, attributed to Anonymouse.

Here’s the page from Bartlett’s Quotations for it:

And here’s a page with some more info:

Sort of a hijack …

Lots of things we teach our children are really pretty morbid. We all know the story of ring around the rosy [can’t find the link], and then there’s “Rock a Bye, Baby” …

… When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will baby, cradle, and all.

There’s probably more that I can’t think of right now. Do we blame this on the borthers Grimm, or what?

Thanks, SmackFu–sleep-deprived zombie idiot that I am, I didn’t even think to hit Bartletts.

But while we’re here, StephenG, check out this link on “Ring Around the Rosie” from Snopes. Not about the plague at all.

You mean it’s not from that Metallica tune?

Comment on a hijack, putting me real far out there …

You shouldn’t be blaming much on the brothers Grimm. Remember that they didn’t write the stories, they collected them. Unless you want to fault them for bringing them to a wider audience, you’ll have to blame the people who thought up the stories (mostly over-protective and perhaps over-imaginative mothers).

That is if they even are to blame for this. I’d say some of this morbid stuff taught to children may not have been intended seriously by parents (despite what the children ended up believing). A lullaby doesn’t need to have meaningful words, so maybe someone came up with the lines as a joke.

As for the child’s prayer, it probably grew out of an earlier time when children may not have lived as long, and memento mori was all the rage. The links mention a likely origin in the 18th century. It was probably something taught before then, and eventually made into print when enough people felt like reminding children that they, too, were mortal.

All i can say is … oh. I apologize for spreading misinformation. Thanks for pointing that out, andros. :slight_smile: