Who doesn’t want to collect nursery rhymes about sleeping on time? Fortunately, we have a sizable list of bedtime songs and rhymes to convince kids that it’s time for their sleep. To Bed, To Bed is an old nursery rhyme also titled Come, Let’s to Bed.
It depicts the scene of a family home where one kid wants to sleep while the other wants to stay awake, and a third person says they should eat before going to bed. Naturally, the rhyme has more than one version with a slight change of words.
Let’s check out the lyrics and see if we have more information about the origins.
"To bed! To bed!"
"Tarry awhile," says Slow;
"Put on the pan,"
Says Greedy Nan*;
"We'll sup before we go."
"To bed, to bed," says Sleepy-Head;
"Let's stay awhile," says Slow;
"Put on the pot," says Greedy-Sot*,
"We'll sup before we go."
Download the printable PDF of To Bed, To Bed from this link. It has the lyrics for two popular versions of the nursery rhyme.
Click on the below image with lyrics to save it on your device.
Here’s the link to a cute animation video of the nursery rhyme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoCMeSuOlYs
Origins and History
The exact origins of the To Bed, To Bed rhyme, are not clear. One of the initial versions of the nursery rhyme, with illustrations, was found in The Real Mother Goose from 1916. It’s a collection of stories of kids, illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright.
However, the rhyme dates back to the mid-19th century when it first appeared in the ‘Traditional Nursery Songs of England with Pictures by Eminent Modern Artists' in 1843. The collection was compiled by Sir Henry Cole. The same book was republished in 1912 as The Little Mother Goose.
The nursery rhyme has a simple story in it. A little kid wants to sleep, but another wants to stay awake. The nan/ sot suggest they have some supper before going to bed. A nan is a woman. It could be a name (like Ann) but is most probably short for a nanny (a woman who looks after kids).
It makes sense that the nanny would want the kids to have some food before they go to sleep. After all, little ones can’t be put to bed with an empty stomach.
No, it’s not. Come, Let’s to Bed or To Bed, To Bed is a different nursery rhyme from Early to Bed. Early to Bed dates back to the 15th century, though the version we know today (as a proverb) comes from the 19th century. To Bed, To Bed is also a traditional rhyme, first recorded in the 19th century.
A sot is a fool, though it can also refer to a habitual drunkard. The word might have been used as an endearment in the poem. It’s an archaic word and is no longer used in modern English.