Words from Patrick

I remember last spring, several days into the long hike from D.C. to Pittsburgh, my feet were hurting, my shirt was drenched with sweat and I was so tired. I pulled out a copy of this song and started a rather wimpy effort at singing:

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.
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…

These words are attributed to our brother Patrick whom we honor today. He was kidnapped from Britain by Irish bandits and served six years as a slave in a pagan land. But in that time, living outdoors, tending sheep, isolated and with little hope of seeing home again,he found a deep faith in Christ that he had abandoned as a youth. In his desperation he found himself praying “a hundred times a day and more at night.” He did escape back to Britain, giving God the credit, and studied to be a priest. Then, to the dismay and puzzlement of his colleagues, he went back to Ireland, this time freely and with love for the people, in order to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ in their own language. He wove their love of the earth and sky and sea with the truth of the one God made known in a self-giving Jesus.

When you wear green today, remember how Patrick walked the green hills to live out what Christ had called him to do. And however you celebrate today, step outside and sing his song. Make up a tune if you don’t know it.


  1. Thanks for a little history of St. Patty’s day!

  2. I also love Patrick’s hymn….and your reminder that Patrick wove together the Celtic love for God’s created earth with the message of God’s love and redeeming work in Christ.

  3. I have prayed this hymn in times of joy and in times of despair. Included in this hymn attributed to St. Patrick, I especially love the prayer for protection on the journey:
    “Christ be with me, Christ within me,
    Christ behind 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.”