Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day 2016



Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Words: Ancient Irish; translated to English by Mary Elizabeth Byrne, 1905. You may also find a version of the words in Eleanor Hull’s Poem Book of the Gael (1912).

Music: “Slane,” of Irish folk origin. Slane Hill is about ten miles from Tara in County Meath. It was on Slane Hill around 433 AD that St. Patrick defied a royal edict by lighting candles on Easter Eve. High King Logaire of Tara had decreed that no one could light a fire before Logaire began the pagan spring festival by lighting a fire on Tara Hill. Logaire was so impressed by Patrick’s devotion that, despite his defiance (or perhaps because of it?), he let him continue his missionary work. The rest is history.
I recognize the story about the music may be apocryphal; but it's worth passing on.

The definitive recorded performance is by Van Morrison, with the Chieftans, on Hymns to the Silence.

(repeated from 2005, when, I now realize, the translation above was 100 years old.)

1 Comments:

Blogger rick allen said...

"It was on Slane Hill around 433 AD that St. Patrick defied a royal edict by lighting candles on Easter Eve. High King Logaire of Tara had decreed that no one could light a fire before Logaire began the pagan spring festival by lighting a fire on Tara Hill. Logaire was so impressed by Patrick’s devotion that, despite his defiance (or perhaps because of it?), he let him continue his missionary work."

I usually read something from St. Patrick's "Confessions" today, but, by an odd coincidence, this year I read Muirchu's "Life of Patrick," which I suspect is the first source of the story of King Logaire of Tara.

Except that in Muirchu the king, enraged at the lighting of the paschal fire, sends his men down to kill Patrick, who brings a dark cloud over them and, panicking, the hundreds of soldiers sent end up killing each other. There then ensue a series of tests between Patrick and the pagan priests, culminating in an ordeal in which a disciple of Patrick's and the chief pagan are placed in a house which wass then set ablaze. Needless to say, Patrick's lad emerges from the ashes unscathed; not so the king's man.

In the end the king converts, mainly because Patrick tells him God will kill him if he doesn't.

Very Celtic, in a real-historical-Celtic sort of way. A rough time, and not surprisingly toned-down a bit for a hymn history.

And a very, very beautiful hymn it is.

10:38 PM  

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