Monday, March 11, 2013

Patrick of Ireland

Patrick of Ireland (circa 390—461) is celebrated for having significantly contributed to the conversion of Ireland to Christianity. When he was about 16, he was kidnapped from his home in southwest Britain and taken to be a slave in Ireland. Approximately six years later he escaped and returned to his family, but had changed much in this time. He studied the Bible, and decided to become a priest. Around 435 he was commissioned to return to Ireland as a missionary, where through his extensive efforts found success. He died on March 17, which is why that is marked as Saint Patrick's Day.

The following poem, translated by Cecil Frances Alexander, is thought to have been written by Patrick, and is sometimes referred to as “Saint Patrick's Breastplate”.

The Lorca

I bind unto myself today
---the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
---the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
---by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
---his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
---his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
---I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
---of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgement hour;
---the service of the seraphim;
confessors' faith, apostles' word,
---the patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
---and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
---the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
---the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
---the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
---around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
---the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
---his ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
---his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
---his heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
---the vice that gives temptation force,
the natural lusts that war within,
---the hostile men that mar my course;
of few or many, far or nigh,
---in every place, and in all hours
against their fierce hostility,
---I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
---against false words of heresy,
against the knowledge that defiles
---against the heart's idolatry,
against the wizard's evil craft,
---against the death-wound and the burning
the choking wave and poisoned shaft,
---protect me, Christ, till thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
---Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
---Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
---Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
---Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
---the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
---the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
---eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
---salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: