The lyrics of this outstanding hymn were written by St. Patrick.
Just one verse each day.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all! Since the pandemic is preventing the usual parties, we thought we’d celebrate the day by sharing a hymn written by St.Patrick.
The wonderful lyrics reside in the Liber Hymnorum, an 11th-century manuscript of Irish hymns. According to this medieval hymnal, the prayer was written and used by the patron saint of Ireland for protection. It is commonly referred to as “St.Patrick’s Breastplate,” but it is also known as the “Prayer of St. Patrick,” and also “The Deer’s Cry.”
Aleteia’s own Fr. Patrick Briscoe broke down each section of the prayer in a contemplative analysis. His thoughtful prose points out that this prayer is as relevant today as it was in St. Patrick’s time. He wrote:
Isolation is a great cause of spiritual sadness. Patrick, who had been enslaved and tended sheep alone on a mountain for six years, knew how to call upon the hosts of heaven for inspiration and consolation. No Christian is ever alone. We have our guardian angels, the saints in heaven, and the support of God’s holy people at our side. Naming the ranks and choirs of intercessors, recognizing those we have near to us always, helps us fight the feeling of being forsaken or abandoned.
John Rutter’s treatment of the text took our breath away. His 20th-century style brings broad chords to the prayer, which ring in the beautiful acoustics of Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral. If you’re looking for a little more Irish flare for the holiday, however, take a look at the more modern rendition of the prayer below.
Jean Watson mesmerizes with her dual skills on vocals and violin. The beautifully shot music video features some of the most gorgeous Irish landscapes they could find. The video utilizes cast and crew members from Game of Thrones to illustrate the some of the dangers which St. Patrick sought to defend against with his prayer.
How St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer can protect your child