Forget the green beer. After having discovered genuine Irish ancestors in my heritage, I'm even more convinced that any good celebration of St. Patrick's Day must include singing his very own hymn, usually called St. Patrick's Breastplate or I Bind unto Myself Today. The words are attributed to St. Patrick himself, with the modern, metrical version provided by Cecil Frances Alexander.

The challenge in St. Patrick's for first time singers is finding the flow; the first verse is shorter than the rest, one or two verses (depending on the version) are sung to a different tune, and usually you must turn the page to complete this hymn. (In my favorite hymnal it covers four pages!)

The tunes are Irish and easily singable, however, and the words packed with theology, beauty, and joy. Do yourself and St. Patrick a favor, and honor him on this day by becoming acquainted with this grand and glorious expression of ancient Celtic Christian faith.

The Oremus Hymnal includes the commonly sung verses and page numbers for St. Patrick's Breastplate in a large collection of hymnals.

The Cyber Hymnal includes two additional verses that are rarely sung but give even more of a feel for the ancient Celtic culture out of which which it arose.

This Irish Culture and Customs site has a non-metrical translation of the poem.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 17, 2006 at 6:31 am | Edit
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Yes, I was thinking recently that Dad can't say he doesn't like ALL things Irish - he's loved St.Patrick's Breastplate at least as long as I have. (:

Posted by joyful on Friday, March 17, 2006 at 8:35 am
Forget the green beer; drink Irish coffee! Nancy sang "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" at a Comeallye last night.

Posted by Mark on Saturday, March 18, 2006 at 8:50 pm
Hooray, Nancy! How I miss her singing.

Posted by SursumCorda on Sunday, March 19, 2006 at 10:59 am
our church used to sing this hymn during the week St. Patrick's fell. i can't remember the last time we sung it, though. i also love it. the words, and especially the "change-up" in the music towards the end, and how it returns to the beginning music. thanks for the online sources!

Posted by liz on Sunday, March 19, 2006 at 9:09 pm
That's probably St. Patrick's Breastplate, which we sang at our wedding. And the reference in the other post to one piper at a wedding being special is that Patrick Regan played at our wedding, and it was great! (Though Doug did wonder how a couple who wanted a piper and St. Patrick's Breastplate could possibly want a more "informal" style wedding...)

Posted by jondaley on Tuesday, March 21, 2006 at 7:38 am
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