I bind unto myself today

I bind unto myself today. Cecil Frances Alexander* (1818-1895). This hymn, in its original Irish form has been attributed to St Patrick, although the dating and authorship remain obscure: in the Irish Liber hymnorum it is said to be ‘a lorica [breastplate] of faith for the protection of body and soul against demons and men and vices’. The pagan king, Laoghaire, was confronted by Patrick at Tara in County Meath on Easter Eve: the druids were silenced, and Patrick lit the paschal fire on the hill of Slane. In the words of the manuscript, ‘Patrick sang it when the ambuscades were laid for him by Laoghaire, in order that he should not go to Tara to sow the faith’. It was translated by the great...

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