An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Breastplate of St

Patrick. An ancient Irish hymn, “I bind unto myself today,” which appears as Hymn 370 in The Hymnal 1982. It is a Celtic lorica, or breastplate prayer, which was recited while dressing or arming for physical or spiritual battle. The text invokes the Trinity, angels, apostles, patriarchs, prophets, the powers of heaven and earth, and Christ to be present for protection in all times and situations of life. The hymn strongly emphasizes personal commitment, awareness of God in everyday events “today,” and Christ's pervasive presence. The text is ascribed to St. Patrick (c. 390-c. 460). It is very unlikely but not impossible that St. Patrick wrote it. The earliest copy of the text dates from the ninth century, and it may well have been written in the sixth century or earlier. Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895) translated the metrical English version of the text that appears in The Hymnal 1982. She originally prepared this expanded paraphrase of the text for the 1891 revision of the Irish Church Hymnal. The hymn was completed in time to be sung throughout Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, Mar. 17, 1889. It is now frequently used on Trinity Sunday because of its powerful invocation of the Trinity. See Celtic Spirituality; see Lorica (Celtic).

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.