TM is an accountant who was born in Sunnyside, WA and now is currently living in Bothell, WA. He descends from a heavy Irish and Italian background which have influenced much of his culture growing up. His grandparents were the ones to teach him the most about his culture through their traditions and common sayings.
Are there any rituals or things you did on a daily basis that you felt were unique to your family or culture?
TM: There wasn’t anything that was very different. There was the bed time prayers we used to say, those were very unique and I never heard them in the bible or any of my friends who were catholic who would say them. My grandmother taught my father how to say them and in turn my father passed it to me as I have passed it to my children. Hopefully they will pass it on.
Do you happen to remember the prayer?
TM: Yes I do, the way it went was; “Now I lay me, down to sleep, pray the Lord, my soul to keep. Keep me safe, through the night, and wake me with, thy mornings light. Amen.”
Do you know what it means or the significance behind it?
TM: It is supposed to be a bedtime prayer for children but some adults I knew still said it. It basically means that when you sleep you hope that God will keep you safe and that you will wake up the next morning safe in your bed. I think it became sort of a chore or habit more than a ritual for me. Many times, when I said it I didn’t really mean it and I just wanted to go to sleep. Now that I am older and I have a different relationship with God the words resonate deeper with me which is why I think I wanted my kids to say it too. We all want our kids to sleep safe and this was a way of keeping an ease at mind in a way. I liked to say it with them sometimes when they were really little. I think it loses it significance when you don’t really understand what you are saying especially when you are young.
Prayers at bedtime right before you sleep is common between many devout Catholics and Christians. This particular prayer TM shared is common but not widely known or practiced. It would serve as a protection or barrier against harm or bad dreams which is why it was very common among children. When I researched the prayer, there were many variations to the middle phrase of the prayer, ‘keep me safe, through the night’. Sometimes it was ‘may angels watch me through the night’ or ‘guide me safely through the night’. Or I came across one with an alternative ending, ‘god bless family, friends, and fun, I thank you each for every one. Although they vary, they all seem to carry the same message of protection and trust in God.