Monday

St. Patrick's Breastplate - Coffee & Conversation





This is mostly known in it's abbreviated form

which is really simply a small section of a hymn written from the actual piece of writing
 by Saint Patrick.



Below I will give the full hymn and abbreviated version and explain a little about it all.







A poem apparently written by St. Patrick in the 8th century was in the form of a prayer of protection.

I presume it then received the title of "Breastplate" as that would have been the main protection of the body in a suit of armour.   Then from that I would think of the Spiritual armour we are told to put on in Ephesians chapter 6 v 10-18 where the breastplate is described as the Breastplate of Righteousness and what better protection do we have than the Righteousness of our Lord Jesus.

In the 19th Century it was written as a hymn by Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander who is well-known as the writer of many many hymns of which
 "All Things Bright and Beautiful"
 "There is a Green Hill Far Away"
and
 "Once in Royal David's City"
are probably the most famous.


It was known as the very popular hymn "I bind Unto Myself Today"


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 spic├Ęd 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.

Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander (1818 - 1895)


One section of this hymn is what we more commonly find named as St. Patrick's Breastplate today when it is cited in articles and embroidered or cross stitched as a decoration or when it is printed on cards.


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.


A lovely prayer for any of us to make to God 

but in one way I feel that so much is lost when we use just this small section 

we are leaving out 
all those other great attributes and actions of Jesus

His

Birth
Baptism
Death
Resurrection
Ascension
Second coming

and that's just the first verse





You can download a free pdf copy of the full prayer
ST. PATRICK'S BREASTPLATE: PRAYER FOR PROTECTION
at the following website



1 comment:

  1. I love reading about the history of old hymns, thank you for sharing, Sandra.

    ReplyDelete