A Celebration of Women Writers

"HYMN V. " by Anna Lætitia Barbauld (1743 - 1825)

First Publication: Hymns in Prose for Children. by Anna Lætitia Barbauld. London: J. Johnson, 1781. pp. 25-35.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


THE glorious sun is set in the west; the night-dews fall; and the air which was sultry, becomes cool. [Page 26] 

The flowers fold up their coloured leaves; they fold themselves up, and hang their heads on the slender stalk.

The chickens are gathered under the wing of the hen, and are at rest: the hen herself is at rest also.

The little birds have ceased their warbling; they are asleep on the boughs, [Page 27]  each one with his head behind his wing.

There is no murmur of bees around the hive, or amongst the honeyed woodbines; they have done their work, and lie close in their waxen cells.

The sheep rest upon their soft fleeces, and their loud [Page 28]  bleating is no more heard amongst the hills.

There is no sound of a number of voices, or of children at play, or the trampling of busy feet, and of people hurrying to and fro.

The smith's hammer is not heard upon the anvil; nor the harsh saw of the carpenter. [Page 29] 

All men are stretched on their quiet beds; and the child sleeps upon the breast of its mother.

Darkness is spread over the skies, and darkness is upon the ground; every eye is shut, and every hand is still.

Who taketh care of all people when they are sunk in sleep; when they cannot [Page 30]  defend themselves, nor see if danger approacheth?

There is an eye that never sleepeth; there is an eye that seeth in dark night, as well as in the bright sun-shine.

When there is no light of the sun, nor of the moon; when there is no lamp in the house, nor any little star twinkling through the thick [Page 31]  clouds; that eye seeth every where, in all places, and watcheth continually over all the families of the earth.

The eye that sleepeth not is God's; his hand is always stretched out over us.

He made sleep to refresh us when we are weary: he made night, that we might sleep in quiet. [Page 32] 

As the mother moveth about the house with her finger on her lips, and stilleth every little noise, that her infant be not disturbed; as she draweth the curtains around its bed, and shutteth out the light from its tender eyes; so God draweth the curtains of darkness around us; so he maketh all things to be hushed and still, that [Page 33]  his large family may sleep in peace.

Labourers spent with toil, and young children, and every little humming insect, sleep quietly, for God watcheth over you.

You may sleep, for he never sleeps: you may close your eyes in safety, for his [Page 34]  eye is always open to protect you.

When the darkness is passed away, and the beams of the morning-sun strike through your eye-lids, begin the day with praising God, who hath taken care of you through the night.

Flowers, when you open [Page 35]  again, spread your leaves, and smell sweet to his praise.

Birds, when you awake, warble your thanks amongst the green boughs; sing to him, before you sing to your mates.

Let his praise be in our hearts, when we lie down; let his praise be on our lips, when we awake.

[Page 36]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom