Tuesday, August 28, 2012

those who work, or watch, or weep this night

I recently made the somewhat difficult decision to cut out any and all tv at bedtime for J.  I never meant television at bedtime to be part of the routine but somehow it happened.  It was sometime last fall, around J's 2nd birthday when I was juggling the challenge of bedtimes with a 2 year old and a brand new baby that I just gave in and started using an episode of Shaun the Sheep to preserve my sanity and keep my toddler occupied while I got the baby into her jammies and held her until she fell into a deep enough sleep to put down so I could turn my attention to J.  Ever since any night without a couple episodes of Shaun, Yo Gabba Gabba, or Curious George were considered incomplete by J and much loud and indignant protest was made. And it was so much easier. And there was something really nice about cuddling up on bed with my girl for 20-40 minutes before the battle of going-to-bed began.

But recently I have noticed that it doesn't really make bedtime any easier. J was getting up repeatedly, and now with the extra excuse of "I have to go potty" folded into her arsenal of avoidance tactics there were nights where despite appearing near sleep in front of the TV bedtime would drag on for literally multiple hours afterward.  So I changed it up, and banned screens from the bedtime routine.  The transition was a little rough.

Now J takes a bath every night after the baby goes down instead and J falls asleep much quicker when it is her turn. I'm much more relaxed too, as it turns out. But my favorite part isn't bathtime, or even the 20 or so minutes of reading we do afterwards. I've started doing a little version of Compline with her every night, praying together and singing a hymn for evening before she tiptoes into bed and lifts up her small face for a kiss and a blessing.

J will bring me my Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and ask for the "Daddy work p'ar" which is one of the prayers at the end of Compline in our prayer book, and my favorite one. She listens to me read it and whispers "amen" when it is done. In the past I have often said this prayer just before I close my eyes for sleep on nights that Andrew is working, because it does seem to me that it is a prayer written for him, his co-workers, and the people who have come into their care at the hospital. Saying it is something that, for me, brings peace, eases loneliness, and restores any battered edges from the day with its reminder of just how far the One in whom I trust will go for the sake of love.

It's late and I should go to bed- so I'll just end it here.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love's sake. Amen.


  1. love that. We have been keeping a small LBW (Lutheran Book of Worship) by H's bed, and we have been singing some from the evening prayer as well. It's a special thing to do with our littles :)

  2. I love Compline, and I think it's a wonderful idea to do it at night! This is actually my favorite prayer, and I am going to adopt your idea and start doing this at our house too.

  3. This is so sweet. I was raised in an Episcopal church and loved the Compline liturgy. We currently do a grace at mealtimes but I like the idea of having prayer at bedtime as well.

  4. I love this post! A. and I have been doing compline just like that from day 1. If I try to skip it, she will request the "cross book." This is my favorite prayer too. Beautiful.
    I also think giving our children a blessing before bed is a unique gift we can give them. They will never doubt that they are loved or blessed.

  5. You've inspired me to find an Episcopalian church in my area to look up and see if it's right for my little girl and I. I would love to raise her with prayers like the one you shared here.