The Writings of Saint Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland/Version of James Clarence Mangan

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For other English-language translations of this work, see St. Patrick's Breastplate.


IT will no doubt be interesting to our readers to be presented here with some poetical translations of St. Patrick's Hymn. The first is that by James Clarence Mangan, a talented but unfortunate Irish poet. It originally appeared in Duffy's Magazine, and was afterwards reprinted in a volume of Mangan's collected Poems, with a Biographical Introduction by John Mitchell (New York, 1859). It was also given in the appendix to the first edition of The College Irish Grammar, by Rev. Ulick J. Bourke (Dublin, O'Daly, 1856), and later in Canon McIlwaine's Lyra Hibernica, Belfast, Dublin, and London, 2nd ed., 1879. The translation is a very spirited one, and 'preserves,' as Dr. Todd remarks in his work on St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, 'the tone and spirit of the original.' It must be remembered that this version was founded on the translation originally made by Dr. Petrie, and therefore has the error of translating the opening words of the hymn 'At Tara,' as well as others mentioned in our notes. (See note 2, p. 121.)


St. Patrick's Hymn before Tara.


At Tara to-day, in this awful hour,
I call on the Holy Trinity!
Glory to Him who reigneth in power,
The God of the elements, Father and Son,
And paraclete Spirit, which Three are the One,
The everlasting Divinity!


At Tara to-day, I call on the Lord,
On Christ, the Omnipotent Word,
Who came to redeem from death and sin,
Our fallen race;
And I put, and I place,
The virtue that lieth in
His incarnation lowly.
His baptism pure and holy,
His life of toil, and tears, and affliction,
His dolorous death, His crucifixion,
His burial, sacred, and sad, and lone,
His resurrection to life again,
His glorious ascension to heaven's high throne,
And lastly, His future dread
And terrible coming to judge all men—
Both the living and the dead.


At Tara to-day, I put and I place,
The virtue that dwells in the seraphim's love;
And the virtue and grace
That are in the obedience,
And unshaken allegiance,
Of all the archangels and angels above;
And in the hope of the resurrection
To everlasting reward and election;
And in the prayers of the fathers of old;
And in the truths the prophets foretold;
And in the apostles' manifold preaching;
And in the confessors' faith and teaching;
And in the purity ever-dwelling
Within the Immaculate Virgin's[1] breast;
And in the actions bright and excelling,
Of all good men, the just and the best.


At Tara to-day, in this fateful hour,
I place all heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And fire with all the strength it hath,
And lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness,
All these I place,
By God's almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness.


At Tara to-day,
May God be my stay!
May the strength of God now nerve me!
May the power of God preserve me!
May God the Almighty be near me!
May God the Almighty espy me!
May God the Almighty hear me!
May God give me eloquent speech!
May the arm of God protect me!
May the wisdom of God direct me!
May God give me power to teach and to preach!
May the shield of God defend me!
May the host of God attend me,
And warn me,
And guard me,
Against the wiles of demons and devils;
Against temptations of vice and evils;
Against the bad passions and wrathful will
Of the reckless mind and the wicked heart;
Against every man that designs me ill,
Whether leagued with others, or plotting apart.


In this hour of hours,
I place all those powers.
Between myself and every foe,
Who threatens my body and soul
With danger or dole;
To protect me against the evils that flow
From lying soothsayers' incantations;
From the gloomy laws of the Gentile nations;
From heresy's hateful innovations;
From idolatry's rites and invocations:
By these my defenders,
My guards against every ban—
And spells of smiths, and Druids, and women;
In fine, against every knowledge that renders
The light Heaven sends us, dim in
The spirit and soul of man!


May Christ, I pray,
Protect me to-day.
Against poison and fire;
Against drowning and wounding
That so in His grace abounding,
I may earn the preacher's hire!


Christ as a light
Illumine and guide me!
Christ as a shield o'ershadow and cover me!
Christ be under me! Christ be over me!
Christ be beside me,
On left hand and right!
Christ be before me, behind me, about me!
Christ, this day, be within and without me!


Christ the lowly and meek,
Christ the all-powerful, be
In the heart of each to whom I speak,
In the mouth of each who speaks to me,
In all who draw near me,
Or see me, or hear me!


At Tara to-day, in this awful hour,
I call on the Holy Trinity!
Glory to Him who reigneth in power,
The God of the elements, Father and Son,
And paraclete Spirit, which Three are the One,
The everlasting Divinity!


Salvation dwells with the Lord,
With Christ, the Omnipotent Word,
From generation to generation.
Grant us, O Lord, Thy grace and salvation!

  1. The translator has here taken an unwarranted liberty with the hymn, which does not contain any reference to the Virgin Mary. The term 'immaculate' is, of course, highly objectionable, as introducing an epithet which would be interpreted by all as referring to the novel dogma of 'the immaculate conception.' The term 'immaculate' might in itself be defensible in the loose sense of 'stainless,' i.e., one whose life was pure and unspotted.