February/March 2014 - Vol. 72

.Song of Patrick
lyrics and music by Ed Conlin
Click to listen to an MP3 audio clip

Lyrics to Song of Patrick
This day God gives me, strength of high heaven
Sun and moon shining, flame in my hearth.
Flashing of lightning, wind in its swiftness,
Deeps of the ocean, firmness of earth.

Rising I thank You, mighty and strong One,
King of creation, giver of rest.
Light of the morning, dispersing the darkness,
Your love awaking the dawn.

This day God sends me, strength as my steersman,
Might to uphold me, Wisdom as guide.
Your eyes are watchful, your ears are listening,
Your lips are speaking, Strength at my side.

God's way is my way, God's shield is round me,
God's host defends me, Saving from ill.
Angels of heaven, drive from me always,
All that would harm me, Stand by me still

Final refrain
Rising I thank You, Mighty and strong One,
King of creation, Giver of rest.
Firmly confessing Oneness of Godhead
Threeness of Persons, Trinity blest.

[The Song of Patrick is included in a Music CD entitled, Sing a New Song to the Lord, produced by The Servants of the Word, and distributed by Tabor House.]
Background to the original hymn attributed to St. Patrick

The Song of Patrick is based on an early Celtic hymn called St. Patrick's Breastplate or The Deer's Cry. [For a contemporary English version of the song, see translation by Kuno Meyer.] This hymn, which dates from the late seventh or early eighth century, is traditionally ascribed to St. Patrick. It reflects many of the themes found in Patrick's thought. 

It is believed that Patrick wrote this hymn as a breastplate of faith for the protection of body and soul against all forms of evil devils, vice, and the evil which humans perpetrate against one another. Legend has it that the High King of Tara, Loeguire, on Holy Saturday 433 AD, resolved to ambush and kill Patrick and his monks to prevent them from spreading the Christian faith in his kingdom. As Patrick and his followers approached singing this hymn, the king and his men saw only a herd of wild deer and let them pass by. This hymn is both a prayer and statement of faith to be recited for protection, arming oneself for spiritual battle.

Ed Conlin is a member of the Servants of the Word, a missionary brotherhood of men living single for the Lord. He lives in community in the inner city of Detroit, Michigan, USA, and works as a licensed substance abuse counselor and chaplain with the Capuchin Franciscan Ministries in Detroit.
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