When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.@Proverbs 3:24

Har­ri­et Parr, in Wreck of the Gold­en Ma­ry, 1856.

Spring­hill Will­iam F. Hurn­dall, 1878 (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
William F. Hurndall (1830–1888)

[The story] was the Christ­mas num­ber of Charles Dick­ens’ House­hold Words, 1856. The way in which the hymn is in­tro­duced in­to the sto­ry has oft­en been told, and is worth re­peat­ing. The sto­ry sets forth how the ship Gold­en Ma­ry, on her voy­age to Cal­i­for­nia, struck on an ice­berg, and the pas­sen­gers, tak­ing to the boats, suf­fered pri­va­tions for sev­er­al days. To be­guile the time they re­peat­ed stor­ies. One of them, Dick Tar­rant, a wild youth, re­lates some of his ex­per­i­enc­es, in which he says:—

What can it be that brings all these old things over to my mind? There’s a child’s hymn I and Tom used to say at my moth­er’s knee, when we were lit­tle ones, keeps run­ning through my thoughts. It’s the stars, may be; there was a lit­tle win­dow by my bed that I used to watch them at, at a win­dow in my room at home in Che­shire; and if I were ev­er af­raid, as boys will be after read­ing a good ghost-sto­ry, I would keep on say­ing it till I fell asleep.

That was a good moth­er of yours, Dick; could you say that hymn now, do you think? Some of us might like to hear it.”

It is as clear in my mind at this min­ute as if my moth­er was here lis­ten­ing to me, said Dick. And he re­peated

Hear my prayer, O Heav­en­ly Fath­er,
Ere we lay us down to sleep,
[sic] &c

Julian, p. 882

Hear my prayer, O heavenly Father,
Ere I lay me down to sleep;
Bid Thine angels, pure and holy,
Round my bed their vigil keep.

Great my sins are, but Thy mercy
Far outweighs them every one;
Down before the cross I cast them,
Trusting in Thy help alone.

Keep me, through this night of peril,
Underneath its boundless shade;
Take me to Thy rest, I pray Thee,
When my pilgrimage is made.

None shall measure out Thy patience,
By the span of human thought;
None shall bound the tender mercies
Which Thy holy Son has wrought.

Pardon all my past transgressions,
Give me strength for days to come,
Guide and guard me with Thy blessing,
Till Thine angels bid me home.