Saint Patrick's Breastplate

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Saint Patrick's Breastplate is a Christian hymn whose original Old Irish lyrics were traditionally attributed to Saint Patrick during his Irish ministry in the 5th century; however, some say it was written later, in the 8th century; although Christian in content, it shows druidic influence.[1] It is part of the Liber Hymnorum, a collection of hymns found in two manuscripts kept in Dublin.[2]

The words were translated into English verse by Cecil Frances Alexander in 1889 and set to two traditional Irish tunes, St. Patrick and Deirdre.[3] The hymn, also known by its opening line "I bind unto myself today", is currently included in the Lutheran Service Book [Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod], English Hymnal, the Irish Church Hymnal and The Hymnal (1982) of the US Episcopal Church. It is often sung during the celebration of the Feast of Saint Patrick on or near March 17, as well as on Trinity Sunday. In many churches it is unique among standard hymns because the variations in length and metre of verses mean that at least three different tunes must be used - different in the melody sung by the congregation.

The prayer known as "Faeth Fiada",[4] or the "Lorica of St. Patrick" (St. Patrick's Breast-Plate) was first edited by Petrie in his "History of Tara".[5]

Scripture references may include Ephesians 6:10–17 ("God's shield to protect me... from snares of devils").[6]


  1. ^ Greene, David; O'Connor, Frank (1990) [1967, London: Macmillan]. A Golden Treasury of Irish Poetry, AD 600–1200. Dingle: Brandon. ISBN 0-86322-113-0. 
  2. ^ Stokes, Whitley; Strachan, John (1975, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies) [1904, Cambridge University Press]. Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus: A Collection of Old-Irish Glosses, Scholia, Prose and Verse II. ISBN 1-85500-087-3.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ The Hymnal 1940 Companion (2nd ed.). New York: Church Pension Fund, Joint Commission on the Revision of the Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. 1951. 
  4. ^ Faeth Fiada
  5. ^ Petrie, George (1837), On the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill, first presented as an essay paper, as noted when Petrie received the Gold Medal of the Royal Irish Academy, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy for the years 1836–7, Part 1, R. Graisberry (publisher/printer), Dublin, 1837, pp. 349 (bottom)–354. For his paper see Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy (Antiquities), Vol. 18, part 2, pp. 25–232, 1839.
  6. ^ Patrick, Saint; and Olden, Thomas (Reverend) [as Editor, and translator into English] (1876), The Epistles and Hymn of Saint Patrick, With the Poem of Secundinus; Hodges, Foster, & Co. (publisher), Dublin, 1876, p. 107, as part of the section "St. Patrick's Hymn", pp. 105–9.
  • Dibble, Jeremy; Stanford Sacred Choral Music, Vol. 3 Notes. London, 1998.

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