This is my 27th entry in the Lenten Hymn-of-the-Day Project. March 17th is the feast day of St. Patrick (372-466), Bishop and Confessor, and patron saint of Ireland.
The words are by him, and were translated by Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895), who is well know for such classics as "Once in royal David's city". The music comes from "Irish Music", 1903, as found in the Petrie Collection, edited by the great Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). We think of Stanford as THE great Anglican, but in reality he was a staunch, to the point of NOT being nice about it, IRISH Protestant.
There are really two tunes for this hymn. The first is of course, "St. Patrick's Breastplate", which is used for verses 1 through 5, and then again for verse 8.
The "second tune", used for verses 6 and 7 comes from the same collection of music, and appears with the name of "Gartan".
These are powerful words, that are dear to the hearts of all Anglo-Catholics. The words are really a "creed", and the vivid imagery is both exciting and deeply moving.
This is a true "processional hymn", as the length dictates a special usage. By "processional" I mean when the clergy and choir leave the sanctuary, making a complete perambulation of the church before returning to their places.
There really are "no cuts" allowed with these all-glorious words!