I Bind Unto Myself Today | The Rev. Susan E. Hill, Associate Rector

06.12.20 | Community, International, Pulpit Posts, World

At the risk of treading on our Director of Music Tim Pyper’s territory, I thought I’d extend the feeling of Trinity Sunday (which we celebrated this past Sunday), by inviting us all to spend a little time with the wonderful hymn “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” (or “I Bind Unto Myself Today”). It is based on a poem said to have been written by St. Patrick, and it describes sources of strength we can prayerfully draw on for support, including two sources I preached about on Sunday: the power of the Trinity as the three-in-one God united in love and the presence of Christ who is always with us.

The hymn begins with the Trinity, before moving on to Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, and anticipated return; the angels and the saints; the natural world; and various aspects of God. The second to last verse brings a change in the hymn’s melody, as it calls for Christ to be with us in a multitude of ways. And finally the hymn concludes where it began, with the strength of the Trinity itself. Here are the first, the second to last, and last verses:

1. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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 has creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
salvation is of Christ the Lord!

We often sing this hymn in procession on Trinity Sunday, and it is a favorite at ordinations and at the consecrations of bishops. We may not be able to do much processing at the moment (other than around our living rooms!), but we can still enjoy the prayerfulness of the words and the power of the music of St. Patrick’s Breastplate. Here is a version sung by Keble College Choir in Oxford, and the video has the lyrics so you can sing along! Note that the tune sung for the fifth verse is different from the one in our hymnal – but the version is beautiful, and powerful nonetheless. Enjoy!

I Bind Unto Myself Today (St Patrick's Breastplate) - YouTube

Rev. Susan Hill

Rev. Susan Hill


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