Saint Patrick's Breastplate

Patrick made this hymn; in the time of Loegaire mac Neill, it was made, and the cause of its composition was for the protection of himself and his monks against the deadly enemies that lay in ambush for the clerics. And it is a lorica of faith for the protection of body and soul against demons and men and vices: when any person shall recite it daily with pious meditation on God, demons shall not dare to face him, it shall be a protection to him against all poison and envy, it shall be a guard to him against suddden death, it shall be a lorica for his soul after his decease.

Patrick sang it when the ambuscades were laid for him by Loegaire, in order that he should not go to Tara to sow the faith, so that on occasion they were seen before those who were lying in ambush as if they were wild deer having behind them a fawn, viz. Benen; and "Deer's Cry" is its name.

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 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 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, 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 today 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.

Words:St Patrick, metrical paraphrase Cecil Frances Alexander
Music:St Patrick's Breastplate adap. Charles Villiers Stanford
Deirdre harm. Ralph Vaughan Williams

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