St. Patrick's Breastplate

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Patrick’s hymn
This poem invokes God's protection on a journey (either literal or the metaphorical "journey of life") against all manner of evils, including "the spells of women and smiths and druids". It was dated as from the 8th century by modern experts and is traditionally attributed to St. Patrick. It is composed in the same style as pagan protection charms from Ireland, but with clearly Christian content. It was translated into English by Cecil Frances Alexander as the popular Victorian hymn "I bind unto myself to-day". An English translation is available at en:St. Patrick's Breastplate.
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[ 354 ]

Patrick’s Hymn.

[ 354 ] T. Patraicc dorone in nimmunsa. I naimseir Loegaire meic Néil dorigned. Fád a dénma immorro dia diden cona manchaib ar náimdib in báis robátar i netarnid arna cleirchib. Ocus is luirech hirse inso fri himdegail cuirp ⁊ anma ar demnaib ⁊ dúinib ⁊ dualchib. Cech duine nosgéba cech dia co ninnithem léir i nDia, ní thairisfet demna fria gnúis, bid dítin dó ar cech neim ⁊ ḟormat, bid co[e]mna dó fri dianbas, bid lúrech dia anmain iarna étsecht. Patraicc rochan so intan dorata na etarnaidi ara chinn ó Loegaire, na digsed do silad chreitme co Temraig; conid annsin atchessa fiad lucht na netarnade comtis aige alta ⁊ iarróe ina ndiaid .i. Benen; ⁊ fáeth fiada a hainm.

[ 354 ] Patrick made this hymn. It was made in the time of Loegaire son of Niall. The cause of its composition, however, was to protect him and his monks against deadly enemies that lay in wait for the clerics. And this is a corslet of faith for the protection of body and soul against devils and men and vices. When anyone shall repeat it every day with diligent intentness on God, devils shall not dare to face him, it shall be a protection to him against every poison and envy, it shall be a defence to him against sudden death, it shall be a corslet to his soul after his death. Patrick sang this when the ambuscades were laid against his coming by Loegaire, that he might not go to Tara to sow the faith. And then it appeared before those lying in ambush that they (Patrick and his monks) were wild deer with a fawn (Benén) following them[1]. And its name is ‘Deer’s Cry.’

[ 354 ]

[2]Atomriug[3] indiu[4]
   niurt[5] trén[6] togairm trindóit[7]
   cretim[8] treodatad[9]
   fóisitin[10] oendatad[11]
   in dúleman[12] dail.
Atomriug[13] indiu
   niurt[14] gene[15] Crist[16] cona bathius[17]
   niurt[18] a chrochtho[19] cona adnacul[20]

[ 354 ]

I arise to-day
   through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity[21],
   through belief in the threeness,
   through confession of the oneness
   of the Creator of creation (?).
I arise to-day
   through the strength of Christ with His baptism,
   through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,

[ 355 ]

   niurt[22] a essérgi[23] cona fresgabáil[24]
   niurt[25] a thóiniuda[26] fri[27] brithemnas[28] mbrátho[29].
Atomriug[30] indiu[31]
   niurt[32] gráid[33] Hiruphin;[34]
   i nerlattaid[35] aingel[36]
   i frestul[37] na narchaingel[38]
   hi frescisin[39] esséirgi[40] ar chenn[41] fochraicce[42]
   i nernaigthib[43] hūasalathrach[44]
   i tairchetlaib[45] fáthe[46]
   hi praiceptaib[47] apstal
   i nhiresaib[48] fóismedach[49]
   i nenccai[50] nóebingen[51]
   i ngnímaib[52] fer fírien[53].
Atomriug[54] indiu[55]
   niurt[56] nime
   soilse[57] gne
   etrochtae[58] ésci[59]
   áne thened
   déne lóchet[60][61]

[ 355 ]

   through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
   through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.
I arise to-day
   through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
   in obedience of angels,
   in the service of the archangels,
   in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
   in prayers of Patriarchs,
   in predictions of Prophets,
   in preachings of Apostles,
   in faiths of Confessors,
   in innocence of holy Virgins,
   in deeds of righteous men.
I arise to-day
   through the strength of heaven:
   light of sun,
   brilliance of moon,
   splendour of fire,
   speed of lightning,

[ 356 ]

   lúathe gáithe[62]
   fudomnae[63] maro[64]
   tairismige[65] t[h]alman
   cobsaide[66] ailech[67].
Atomriug[68] indiu

    niurt[69][70] dom lúamairecht[71]
cumachtae[72] ṅDé[73] dom chumgabāil[74]
cīall Dé[75] domm imthús[76]
roscc[77] ṅDé[78] dom rēimcise[79]
clūas Dé[80] dom étsecht[81]
brīathar Dé[82] dom erlabrai[83]
lám Dé[84] domm[85] imdegail
intech[86][87] dom rēmthechtas[88]
scīath[89][90] dom imditin[91]
sochraite[92] domm anacul

      ar intledaib[93] demnae[94]
      ar aslaigib[95] dūalche[96]
      ar irnechtaib aicnid[97]
      ar cech ṅduine mídúthrastar[98] dam
         i ceín ⁊[99] i nocus[100]
         i núathud[101] ⁊ hi sochaidi[102].

[ 356 ]

   swiftness of wind,
   depth of sea,
   stability of earth,
   firmness of rock.
I arise to-day
   through God's strength to pilot me:
   God's might to uphold me,
   God's wisdom to guide me,
   God's eye to look before me,
   God's ear to hear me,
   God's word to speak for me,
   God's hand to guard me,
   God's way to lie before me,
   God's shield to protect me,
   God's host to secure me,
      against snares of devils,
      against temptations of vices,
      against inclinations (?) of nature,
      against every one who shall wish me ill,
         afar and anear,
         alone and in a multitude.

[ 357 ]

Tocuiriur[103] etrum indiu[104] inna huli[105] nert so[106]
   fri cach nert[107] namnas[108] nétrocar[109] fristái[110] dom churp ocus domm[111] anmain
   fri tinchetla[112] sāibḟáthe[113]
   fri dubrechtu gentliuchtae[114][115]
   fri sáibrechtu[116] heretecdae[117][118]
   fri himchellacht[119] nidlachtae[120]
   fri brichtu ban ⁊ gobann[121] ⁊ druad[122]
   fri cech fiss arachuiliu[123] corp ⁊[124] anmain[125] duini[126].
   Crīst domm[127] imdegail indiu[128]
         ar neim ar loscud[129]
         ar bádud ar guin
      condomthair[130] ilar fochraice[131].
   Crīst lim[132], Crīst reum[133] Crīst im[134] degaid
   Crīst indium[135], Crīst íssum[136] Crīst úasum[137]
   Crīst dessum[138], Crīst tūathum[139]
   Crīst illius Crīst isius[140] Crīst inerus
   Crīst i cridiu[141] cech duini[142] rodomscrútadar[143]
   Crīst i ngin[144] cech[145] óin[146] rodomlabrathar[147]

[ 357 ]

I summon to-day all those powers between me (and these evils)[148],
   against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul,
   against incantations[149] of false prophets,
   against black laws of heathenry,
   against false laws of heretics,
   against craft (?) of idolatry,
   against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
   against every knowledge …… man’s body and soul.
   Christ to protect me to-day
         against poison, against burning,
         against drowning, against wounding,
      so that there may come to me abundance of reward.
   Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
   Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
   Christ on my right, Christ on my left.
   Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height[150].
   Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
   Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

[ 358 ]

   Crīst hi[151] cech rusc[152] nomdercædar[153]
   Crīst hi[151] cech clūais[154] rodomchloathar[155].
Atomriug indiu
   niurt trén[156] togairm tríndóit[157]
   cretim treodatad[158]
   foísitin óendatad
   in dúleman dail[159]

   Domini est salus. Domini est salus. Christi est salus.
   Salus[160] tua, Domine, sit semper nobiscum. Amen[161].

[ 358 ]

   Christ in every eye that sees me,
   Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise to-day
   through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity[162],
   through belief in the threeness,
   through confession of the oneness,
   of the Creator of creation (?).

   Domini est salus etc.

Notes
  1. cf. Trip. L. 46
  2. ll. 1–7 atomriug... cona bath wanting in R
  3. attoruig (?) E
  4. indíu T
  5. n˘t E
  6. triun E
  7. trinoit T, trinoite E
  8. creitium E
  9. treodataid T, treodata (apparently) E
  10. fóisin T, foisitin E
  11. aontatadh E cf. cretem óenatad co foisitin tredatad, LH. 11a, Goidil. 101
  12. dulemain T
  13. attoriug E
  14. n˘t E
  15. geine E
  16. cr˘ T
  17. baithis E, is R
  18. neurt R, n˘t E
  19. a chrochtho: crochta T, a croctha R a crochdha E
  20. adnocul T, adnac˘ R, adhnacul E
  21. ‘a mighty invocation (is) the Trinity.’ ? J.S. For the gen. tríndóit v. supra p. 327, note v. W.S.
  22. neurt R, n˘t E
  23. a essérgi: neiseirge T, a eisirgi R, a eiserghi E
  24. cona fresgabáil: co fresgabail T, ɔa freasgab˘ R, cona fresgabail E
  25. neurt RE
  26. a thóiniuda: tóniud T, a thoiniuda R, a toiniudha E
  27. do T
  28. brethemnas T, brethemnus R, 'brithemnus E
  29. bratha T
  30. attoriug RE
  31. om. RE
  32. neurt R, n˘t E
  33. grád T, graid RE
  34. hiruphín R, hiruphin E
  35. nurlataid T, nerlattaid R, nerlatud E
  36. aingiul, R l. 14 om. T
  37. frestal RE
  38. narchaingiul R, narchaingil E
  39. frescisiu R, freiscisin E
  40. eseirge T, nesergi R, eisergi E
  41. cenn T, cend RE
  42. fochraice T, focraici R, fochricce E
  43. nernaigthi R, nernaigtibh E
  44. uasalatrach E
  45. taircetlaib R, taircedlaibh E
  46. fatha T, fáthi R, faithe E
  47. preceptaib R, preceptaibh E
  48. nirisib RE
  49. fáismedach R fuismedach E
  50. nendgai T, nendccai RE
  51. nóem- T
  52. gnimuibh E
  53. firean T, firioin R, fireoin E
  54. attoriug R, attoriugh E
  55. om. R
  56. neurt R, nertt E
  57. soillsi RE
  58. MSS. etrochta
  59. snechtai ‘snow’ T, esca E
  60. áne—lóchet om. RE
  61. .i. lassrach Tmg
  62. luathe gáethe T, luaithi gaithi RE
  63. MSS. fudomna
  64. MSS. mara
  65. tairisem T, tairismigi RE
  66. cobsaidecht T, cobsaidi R, cobsaidhe E
  67. alech R
  68. attoriug RE
  69. neurt R, n˘t E
  70. ṅde E
  71. luamaracht T, luamuirecht E
  72. MSS. cumachta
  73. T
  74. ɔgbáil R, chongmail E
  75. ndé R, nde E
  76. dom thúr R, dom imtus E
  77. rosc TR
  78. T, nde E
  79. imcaisin RE
  80. nde R, de (over the line) E
  81. éstecht T, éistecht R, eistecht E
  82. ṅdé R, nde E
  83. erlabra E
  84. ndé R, de E
  85. dom RE
  86. INdech E
  87. ndé R
  88. remthechtus RE
  89. sgiath E
  90. ndé E
  91. dítin T, imdíten R
  92. sochraiti R
  93. indledaib R, inntlechtaib E
  94. MSS. demna
  95. aslaigthib T, aslagib R, aslagaibh E
  96. dualach RE
  97. foirmdechaib acnid R, formdech...E
  98. midúthrastar T, midúthracair R, miduthracur E
  99. ⁊ om. R
  100. a noccus R
  101. nuathed T, nuath˘ R, nuathad E
  102. hi sochaide T, i soch˘ R, i sochaide E
  103. tocuirius T, tochuiriur R
  104. thra T
  105. na huile T, inna hule R, ina uili E
  106. neurt a sa R, n˘tu E
  107. neurt R, n˘t E
  108. namnus RE
  109. netrocair E
  110. fristí T
  111. dom RE
  112. taircetlaib R, taircetla E
  113. saebfáthe R, sæbhfaidhthe E
  114. frigentliuchtae om. RE
  115. gentliuchta T
  116. sæbrechtaib R, sæbbrichtaib E
  117. heretecdae—brichta (brichta T) om. RE
  118. heretecda T
  119. himcellacht TR
  120. nidlachta T
  121. goband TR, gobann E
  122. druag E
  123. aracuiliu RE, that corrupts (?): cf. cuil .i. olc no toirmisgthe, O’Cl. W.S.
  124. corp ⁊ om. T
  125. anman T, anmain R, anmuin E
  126. dam R, duine E
  127. dom RE
  128. om. RE
  129. ar cech neim ar loscud R, ar cach neim ar losgad E
  130. ɔomthair T, ɔimraib R, conomroib E
  131. fochraici R, focraige E
  132. lium E
  133. rium T, remam R, reum E
  134. imm R, um E
  135. innium T, innum R
  136. ísum R, isum E
  137. úasam R, huasam E
  138. desum E
  139. tuatam E
  140. ipsius (?) R, issius (?) E
  141. cride R, cridi E
  142. MSS. duine
  143. immimrorda T ‘who may think of me,’ romdosgruda E
  144. aṅgin R
  145. cach E
  146. oen T, duine RE
  147. rodomlabrodar R, nodomlabradar E
  148. for the elliptical expression cf. Vol. i. p. 599, n. f
  149. cf. dogentais druid tinchetla na n-degaid LL. 13a 34
  150. For this line W.S. alone is responsible. For erus he reads érus derived from ér .i. uasal. O’Dav. p. 47, and compares Eph. iii. 18: ut possitis comprehendere, cum omnibus sanctis, quae sit latitudo et longitudo et sublimitas
  151. 151.0 151.1 in T
  152. Cr˘ i ruscc cech duine R, Cr˘ i rusg cach duine E
  153. rodomdecadar R, nodomdechadar E; leg. dodomréccathar or dodoméccathar?
  154. Cr˘ i clúais cech duine R, Cr˘ i cluais cach duine E
  155. rodomcluinedar R, :::::cluinithar E
  156. trén T
  157. trinoit T
  158. treodataid T
  159. Atomriug—in duleman dail T only
  160. om. R
  161. om. T
  162. ‘a mighty invocation (is) the Trinity’ (?). J.S.


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