March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The Feast Day of St. Patrick. Today is known more now for drunken revelry than any celebration of the actual life of St. Patrick, so I figured I'd post something historical and devotional -- even though most scholars say that it's too late for it to be attributed to Patrick. It definitely reflects his spirituality, and so I include it today. Besides, it's an awesome example of devotional poetry, and I think more people need to know about it.

There are a number of great translations available; I've chosen the one I found here, since it seems the most complete. It also begins "I bind unto myself" rather than "I rise today" -- the more accurate translation.


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 for ever,

By power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;

His baptism in the Jordan River;

His death on cross for my salvation;

His bursting from the spicèd 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 the Cherubim;

The sweet 'Well done' in judgment 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;

Or 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 the 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.


We need to bind to ourselves daily the power of God. Patrick is claiming the power of God on his life, to protect and sustain him through any difficulty. And Patrick had difficulty in his life and ministry. According to legend, Patrick used this prayer (or lorica) to excape druids who were trying to kill him. As he passed, all the druids saw was a deer -- for this reason, the breastplate has also been called The Deer's Cry. The dating of the prayer makes this story a bit of a problem (since it claims to have been written "in the time of Loeghaire, son of Niall," which puts it well after the time of Patrick. It is obvious, though, from a study of his life that St. Patrick was protected time and again by God.

{edit}For a great biographical sketch of Patrick, go here.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:05 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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