Friday 16th November 2018

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

St. Patrick’s Answer To The Powers Of Hell — Then And Now

July 3, 2018 Featured Today No Comments

By JAMES MONTI

Many of us, I’m sure, are still reeling from the evil outcome of the recent vote in Ireland that by overthrowing the legal protection of the unborn will effectively expose to a sentence of death countless innocent Irish children. Sixteen centuries ago, Ireland was likewise in the shadow of death, the nation under the sway of pagan Druids. But on a spring evening in Slane, in Ireland’s County Meath, a fire was lit on a hilltop to begin the Easter Vigil that night, lit by “a man sent from God” (John 1:6), whose name was Patrick. That light shone in the darkness, and the darkness was not able to overcome it (John 1:5).
St. Patrick’s pivotal and decisive confrontation with Ireland’s powers of darkness is said to have come at Tara, where on that Easter night Ireland’s pagan king Laogaire and his Druid clergy spotted the Slane fire off in the distance, and ultimately resolved to snuff out both the Christian faith it symbolized and the missionary who had come to light it.
We know from Patrick’s own writings that in the course of his apostolic labors he did indeed encounter hostility, persecution, and very real threats to his life. In his Confessio he speaks of undergoing “insults from unbelievers,” “many persecutions even unto chains” and of expecting daily either to be “massacred” or to suffer some other calamity at the hands of his foes (text in Maire B. De Paor, PBVM, ed., Patrick: The Pilgrim Apostle of Ireland: St. Patrick’s Confessio and Epistola, Dublin, Veritas, 1998, pp. 247, 261).
It was the confrontation with paganism at Tara that is said to have inspired Patrick to compose the prayer attributed to him for at least a thousand years — his Lorica (“Breastplate”). The earliest explicit reference to this prayer and the circumstances of its composition is in the tenth to eleventh century Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, which relates that when the pagan king Laogaire, intent upon putting Patrick to death, had set an ambush for him on the roads leading to Tara, the saint prayed in these words for protection.
Thereupon a “cloak of darkness” concealed Patrick and the clerics accompanying him, so that “not a man of them appeared.” All that the would-be assassins saw as Patrick and his companions passed was a retinue of “eight deer…and behind them a fawn” (text in Whitley Stokes, ed., The Tripartite Life of Patrick, with Other Documents relating to that Saint, part 1, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1887, pp. 46-53, esp. 47).
The preamble that accompanies this prayer in the earliest work to record its full text, the eleventh-century Liber Hymnorum, says that it is “a lorica [breastplate] of faith for the protection of body and soul against demons and men and vices,” and that when anyone “shall recite it daily with pious meditation on God, demons shall not dare to face him,” and it shall even serve as a breastplate for his soul after death (text in J.H. Bernard and R. Atkinson, The Irish Liber Hymnorum, London, Henry Bradshaw Society, 1898, volume 2, p. 49).
This hymn is a spiritual call to battle — indeed the Irish genre to which it belongs, that of the lorica, was intended as a supplication to be offered when vesting for warfare, as well as a morning offering to be said while dressing for the “battle” of a new day (Carl Daw, Glory to God: A Companion, Louisville, Ky., Westminster John Knox Press, 2016, p. 7).
The original Irish text has been translated in various ways, but perhaps the most compelling rendering of this text in English, and by far the most powerful setting of the prayer to music, has been the full nine-verse adaptation entitled, “I bind unto myself today,” its wording the work of the Anglican hymn-writer Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895) and its music composed by the Englishman Charles Villiers Stanton (1852-1924).
When in 1893 Mrs. Alexander’s rendering of the Lorica was published as “Hymn 583” in the Irish Anglican volume, Church Hymnal: Appendix, the words of St. Paul, “Put on the whole armour of God” (Eph. 6:11), were printed as an epigraph just below the title of the hymn (Robert Prescott Stewart, ed., Church Hymnal: Appendix, Dublin, Association for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1893, p. 118).
Clearly Patrick’s prayer draws its inspiration in large part from St. Paul’s famous battle analogy in his Epistle to the Ephesians, in which he speaks of girding oneself with truth, putting on “the breastplate of righteousness” and “taking the shield of faith . . . the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:11-17).
Ludwig Bieler describes Patrick’s Lorica as combining “a profoundly religious spirit with poetic grandeur” (L. Bieler, ed., The Works of Saint Patrick; St. Secundinus, Hymn on St. Patrick, Ancient Christian Writers, n. 17, Westminster, Md., and London, Newman Press/Longmans, Green and Co., 1953, p. 68). Far from taking excessive liberties with the original, Mrs. Alexander’s adaptation serves only to accentuate, heighten, and underline the meaning and poetry of Patrick’s words by polishing and smoothing the phraseology. The lyricism of Mrs. Alexander’s translation laid the groundwork for what Charles Villiers Stanton would subsequently achieve in setting the prayer to truly worthy music.
For his setting of the Lorica Stanton chose a traditional Irish melody known simply as the “Hymn of St. Bernard,” a tune of an age and origin lost in the mists of history that in times past had been employed to sing St. Bernard’s Jesu dulcis memoria (melody in George Petrie and C.V. Stanford, eds., The Complete Collection of Irish Music, London, Boosey and Co., 1902-1905, n. 1048, p. 266). One modern hymnal describes Stanford’s musical setting of the text to the St. Bernard melody as “rugged, outdoor, striding music,” a work of “bounding energy” imbued with “grandeur” and “a bracing aura of intense experience” (Daw, Glory to God, pp. 8-9).
Stanton’s musical setting of “I bind unto myself today” can be heard in its uncut nine-verse entirety in an excellent 1997 digital recording by David Hill and the Winchester Cathedral Choir (from Hyperion CDS44311/3). Here we quote the first seven verses:
“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 pow’r of faith, Christ’s Incarnation; / His baptism in Jordan River; / His death on Cross for my salvation; / His bursting from the spiced tomb; / His riding up the Heav’nly 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 Prophet’s 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 pow’r of God to hold, and lead, / His eyes 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; / Of 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” (text in Stewart, Church Hymnal: Appendix, pp. 118-121, 124-125).

It Will Not Stand

It seems no coincidence that the postmodern descent of Irish society into Neopaganism has been preceded and accompanied in certain academic quarters by a romanticization of Ireland’s ancient pagan past, an eagerness to find pagan origins for traditional Irish music and literature to the point of casting ancient Irish Christian hymns and prayers such as the Lorica as more Druid than Christian in spirit.
One suspects that secular academes who feel the attraction of traditional Irish culture but who are embarrassed by its overtly Catholic context feel the need to reassure their secularistic audience that they have no sympathy for Catholicism. Yet the Lorica is inescapably Catholic. Its petitions for protection from various evils have their counterpart in the Church’s ancient Litany of the Saints, and its nature references in Verse Four all have their precedent in the Book of Daniel’s canticle of the three young men in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:35-59).
Stanton’s employment of the “St. Bernard” melody for most of the Lorica is so captivating and enervating that when for the eighth and penultimate verse he temporarily lays it aside to resort to a different traditional Irish melody it can strike the listener as a disappointing departure. But the change in verbal structure for the phrases of this verse make such a musical detour a necessity, and this musically calmer interlude renders the return of the St. Bernard melody for the final verse all the more powerful.
Writing at a time when he himself was in danger of death at the hands of the seemingly unstoppable Nazis, Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) observed, “He who has true confidence in God knows that God has not become ‘indifferent’ to us because He allows His foes to parade in triumph for a while” (Transformation in Christ: On the Christian Attitude of Mind, New York, Longmans, Green and Co., 1948, p. 169).
The present “victory” for the culture of death in Ireland will not stand. Through the intercession of St. Patrick, and the prayers and sacrifices of those willing to follow his example, the light of Christ will in the end triumph over the darkness.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Load More...

Cardinal guilty of covering up sex abuse addresses US bishops’ conference

BALTIMORE, November 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A cardinal barred from public ministry since 2013 as a result of his systematic cover-up of sex abuse spoke at the U.S. Bishops’ General Assembly in Baltimore Tuesday, telling the bishops they “need to lead by witness.” In…Continue Reading

US bishops consider asking Pope Francis to release McCarrick documents

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will consider officially asking Pope Francis to release any documents related to alleged serial sexual abuser Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. The motion was made from the…Continue Reading

U.S. Catholic Bishops Meet in the Shadow, Still, of Clergy Sex Abuse

This weekend, the Catholic bishops of the United States gather in Baltimore ahead of their three-day annual general assembly, which opens Monday. By coincidence, it will be 16 years exactly since their session in 2002, when they met to amend…Continue Reading

The Synodal Church

Antonio Spadaro, SJ – Carlos Galli Forty years ago, Jesuit Father Arij Roest Crollius wrote: “What is so new about inculturation?”[1] His reflection was a milestone in the understanding of that word and in welcoming a concept at the heart of…Continue Reading

National network of Catholic church leaders told to preserve all communications

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has asked the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to preserve all electronic and paper documents in case other federal prosecutors need to look into accusations of sexual assault against current…Continue Reading

Cdl. Burke ‘strongly’ endorses new virtue education program for young people

October 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Church’s most outspoken defenders of life, marriage, and family, has “strongly” endorsed a new virtue education program for children. “Alive to the World” is a continuous, story-based virtues/values program. Much…Continue Reading

Pittsburgh wants to revoke Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of kids event over Christian marriage views

PITTSBURGH, October 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – America’s most successful Christian food chain may be driven out of a children’s community event in Pittsburgh over the owners’ Christian-based view of marriage and homosexuality, if the Pittsburgh City Council has its way.…Continue Reading

Australian bishop touts women’s ordination: ‘transformation of priesthood’ is underway

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, October 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Australian bishop recently told priests that admitting women to the priesthood in the Church’s current state of affairs would be like pouring new wine into old wine skins, but that a “transformation…Continue Reading

Twitter locks LifeSite out of account for ‘hate’: fact-based post on rise in gay STDs

October 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Twitter has just locked LifeSiteNews out of our Twitter account over an article we posted four years ago that provided expert analysis on the rise in sexually-transmitted diseases among homosexuals. The 2014 piece by Dr. Gerard M.…Continue Reading

Ave Maria U president who criticized Cdl. Burke, Archbishop Viganò announces resignation

AVE MARIA, Florida, October 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Just six weeks after he issued a statement criticizing Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Carlo Vigano, Ave Maria University (AMU) announced its president Jim Towey will step down in June 2020. Vigano’s 11-page testimony…Continue Reading

‘Just glad we ruined Kavanaugh’s life’: Pro-abortion Left responds to Supreme Court defeat

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Judge Brett Kavanaugh is now Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and the left-wing forces who pulled out all the stops to defeat him show no signs of cooling down anytime soon. The Senate voted 50-48 on…Continue Reading

Pope selects youth from pro-gay Vatican consultant’s media org to attend Synod

October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The four young people from Canada now at the Vatican synod on youth are all from Salt and Light Media. The Toronto-based media outlet is run by Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is also on…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

US bishop challenges brother bishops for allowing pro-LGBT priest to speak in dioceses

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Texas Bishop Joseph Strickland forthrightly articulated Church teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts to the U.S. Bishops’ Conference Tuesday. He questioned whether his brother bishops believed this “doctrine of the Church or not,” and if they did, why some of them have allowed certain clergy to speak in their dioceses with a pro-homosexual message. “Brothers, I think part of the fraterna

Abp. Viganò urges U.S. bishops to confront sex abuse as ‘courageous shepherds’

ROME, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò today has issued a brief note to the U.S. Bishops, urging them to confront sex abuse as “courageous shepherds” rather than “frightened sheep.” The U.S. Bishops are currently in Baltimore at their much-anticipated fall annual meeting at which they were expected to vote on concrete proposals to hold bishops accountable for their failures after the reve

Pope Francis . . . “First, there is the immense and ongoing crisis of climate change and the nuclear menace”

ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE PLENARY SESSION OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES Consistory Hall Monday, 12 November 2018 [Multimedia]   Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to meet the full complement of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. I offer cordial welcome to the new Members and I am grateful to the former President, Professor Werner Arber for his gracious words of introduction, while I pray that Professor Joachim von…Continue Reading

Vatican orders U.S. bishops to halt plans for vote on sex-abuse reforms

BALTIMORE – The first gathering of the nation’s Catholic bishops since a summer wave of anger and recrimination over clergy sex abuse in the American church opened Monday with a stunning announcement: The prelates would not vote on a series of new accountability measures – and it was the Vatican who ordered them to hold off.

Our Veterans Fought and Died For Our Freedom, Not for Abortion

(Reprinted from 2013) In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, thirty men from the small town of Bedford, Virginia, huddled close together in landing craft churning through the dark waters of the English Channel on a mission unlike any other the world had ever known. Their destination: a strip of sand known as Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. Most of the thoughts running through the minds of these young men are lost to…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

A Book Review… The Wizards Versus The Rest Of Us

By JEFF MINICK Piedra, Alberto. No God, No Civilization (Lambing Press: 2018); paperback, 255 pages. Available at amazon.com. In January of 2018, I resolved to read my way through Will and Ariel Durant’s magnum opus The Story of Civilization before the end of the year. It is now early November, and I am nearing the…Continue Reading

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

Conflicting Rights In A Divided Nation

By LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON The Senate Judiciary hearings to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as an associate justice of the Supreme Court were brutal to his personal reputation, devastating to the comity of the congressional body, and inflammatory in an already divided nation. Protesters shouted in the hearing room, had sit-ins in the hall, accosted a senator…Continue Reading

The Paradox Of The Person

By DONALD DeMARCO The first law of nature is self-preservation. The highest law of morality is self-sacrifice. What the content these two sentences makes abundantly clear is that the life of the human being is one of perpetual tension. Self-preservation and self-sacrifice are not exactly on the same page. However, it is important to note…Continue Reading

Mass Migration: Mortal Threat To Red State America

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that his natural political instincts are superior to those of any other current figure. As campaign 2018 entered its final week, Trump seized upon and elevated the single issue that most energizes his populist base and most convulses our media elite. Warning of…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In a recent blog that appeared in LifeSiteNews, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski described the vital contribution of Christianity to the world and suggested that living it to the fullest today could transform our modern world: “Christianity entered into a world that was drunkenly careening from superstition to esotericism, from world-weary despair to unappeasable hedonism, and introduced a way that…Continue Reading

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Indifference

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, Washington, D.C. Monsignor kindly gave The Wanderer permission to reprint this essay from his blog, which appeared there on November 5, 2018. All rights reserved.) + + + The Gospel for Tuesday of the 31st Week features the Lucan version of the parable about…Continue Reading

Shine Brightly Like The Stars

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Daniel 12:1-3 Heb. 10:11-14, 18 Mark 13:24-32 In the Gospel reading today our Lord teaches us about what will happen at the end of the world: The sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will be falling from the sky, and the…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Life Is Beautiful With Final Judgment In View

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The prospect of final judgment brings negative impressions, images, or emotions to mind for many. Sometimes it also does so for some who claim our Catholic faith. As a step along the way to spiritual maturity, we must often be purged of our childish or worldly impressions. With an authentic and deeper faith, the prospect…Continue Reading

The Sacrament Of Holy Orders… More On Women Priests — Why Not?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 4 The participation of women in the life of the Catholic Church over the centuries has been remarkable. Without being priests, women have played a major role in the instruction of the faithful, service of the sick and needy, and the works of the apostolate. The work of spreading the Gospel, as early as in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Gertrude The Great

By CAROLE BRESLIN In Christian spirituality, prayer has many types and forms. There are prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, reparation, and petition. There are vocal prayers and mental prayers. Again there are liturgical prayers and private prayers. Only one woman in the history of the Church has been called great, St. Gertrude the Great, a Benedictine nun, known for her wisdom…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Elizabeth Of The Trinity

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a woman receives the Carmelite habit, she also receives a new name. St. Teresa of Avila received the name “of Jesus” and St. Therese of Lisieux received the name “of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.” Likewise, when Elizabeth Catez became a Carmelite and received her name, she was given the title “of the Trinity,”…Continue Reading