This weekend, the Church celebrates the life of Patrick, bishop and evangelist. Patrick was born in Roman Britain, but as a youth was kidnapped into slavery in Ireland. After a few years, he finally escaped and returned to his family. Patrick then trained to become a priest. Through the Holy Spirit’s urging, Patrick left his hometown of Bannavem Taburniae (which might have been in western England, Wales, or southwestern Scotland)1 and returned to Ireland.

While Patrick did not convince every person in Ireland to be Christian, he certainly laid groundwork for the continued proclamation of the Gospel in Ireland. A century and a half later, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Irish Christians descended from the converts of Patrick’s mission helped to re-evangelize Wales and England.2

When we think of Patrick as a saint, we might think of him as being perfect. However, by his own admission, Patrick had his faults and sins. Nevertheless, through Patrick the Word of God, Jesus Christ, was proclaimed. With this memory of Patrick, we may strengthen our faith when we recall how he experienced grace and how he was helped by faith.3

Now, while it was probably not written by Patrick, but likely another Irish Christian, it is an appropriate time of year to sing/pray the hymn/prayer known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, which is printed below. Even though its authorship is unknown, it “expresses [Patrick’s] faith and zeal in a powerful and memorable way.”4

May God continue to be with you!
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul+

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Translated by Cecil Frances Alexander (Hymn 583, page 730)

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,5
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.

1 Carole D Bos’s work for a great summary and sources
2 For further reading of this re-evangelizing effort, check out Recovering the Past: Celtic and Roman Mission by John Finney
3 See CA XXI, German Text, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, translated by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert
4 New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints, Philip H. Pfatteicher, page 124
5 Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!