“What our mother taught us to pray, what has always proved so helpful, what I have always felt so deeply, what even now leads me back to my home—the hymns that I sang with my brother, before we both went to sleep; the hymns that have not yet fully faded away, as, singing them, I still close my eyes in sleep.
‘Go now, children, it’s past the time. Sleep tight. Praised be Jesus Christ forever. Make the sign of the cross, here take some holy water and go in safety.
May the Guardian Angel lead you. And now, dear children, good night.’ The little ones, before they leave, say, ‘Good night, dear mother and father, good night.’
My brother and I slept together alone in a very small wooden room. How I think back on you with longing and gladness, my little room—days full of joy; but a joy made a little worrisome and sad by the dark passage. For it seemed to take us a long time to go over the attic, up the stairs, and across the floor.
Yes, going up the stairs and through the dark passage frightened and unnerved me. And the inner fear, which we admitted to each other, was known to everyone. It was not as if we could lose our way. And so we went quietly as mice and led each other hand in hand until we reached the desired spot.
One jump and the heroes are both in bed. And then begins the beautiful prayer that the lips of our mother taught us, which I will always hold precious and dear. The voices of youth are not spent: what I did as an innocent boy, and what I sang daily with my brother, that will I sing as a youth, that will I sing as a man.
My Holy Guardian Angel, keep me in your care, every day and every hour, until my soul comes to heaven.
Little Christ Child, come to me. Make me a good child. My heart is little, no one can come in except you, my dear little Jesus.
Jesus, be with me. Mary, pray for me. All my patrons, in death do not forsake me. Lord, I believe. Lord, I hope. Lord, I love you with all my heart. Strengthen me in faith, hope, and love. Jesus, Mary, Joseph!
O Mother! How much you loved us to teach us these prayers. Many a weary, bitter day, when cares lay heavy on my heart, was wonderfully made sweet by these childhood hymns, that always come to my mind before going to bed. In spirit I see you again, Mother, and all my sorrows are quickly gone.”