The Writings of Saint Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland/Version of Joseph John Murphy

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


The following metrical version appeared in the columns of the Irish Ecclesiastical Gazette for April 5, 1889. Its author, the late J. J. Murphy, Esq., was a well-known and valued writer, and for many years Hon. Sec. of the Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of Down, Connor, and Dromore. We quote Mr. Murphy's remarks:—

'In offering a new metrical version of this poem, I do not mean to challenge comparison with Mrs. Alexander's. Hers is meant to be sung as a hymn, for which purpose mine is not suitable.

'The irregular stanzas of this version represent those of the original. The Latin verses which conclude the Irish original are translated by longer lines than the rest.

'I have made this version partly from the translation in Stokes's and Wright's "Writings of St. Patrick," and partly from Dr. Todd's [see p. 15].

Joseph John Murphy.'

I bind as armour on my breast
The Threefold Name whereon I call,
Of Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
The Maker and the Judge of all.

I bind as armour on my breast
The power in flesh made manifest
Of Him, the Son, from Heaven who came,
His baptism in the Jordan's wave,
His cross of pain and bitter shame,
His burial, and His opened grave;
And God's eternal power, whereby
He rose, ascended up on high,
And will return to judge and save.

In hope a heavenly crown to win,
I bind as armour on my breast
The obedience and the love wherein
Angels and seraphs are possessed,
With faithful prayer and worthy deed
Of all the saints in history's roll,
Who kept unstained their holy creed
And virgin purity of soul.

As armour on my breast I bind
The powers of God in heaven and earth;
The fleetness of the rushing wind,
The brightness of the morning's birth;
The splendour of the fiery glow,
The whiteness of the winter snow,
The lightning's wildly flashing mirth;
The strength that girds the rocky steep,
The vastness of the unfathomed deep.

I bind as armour on my breast
The Wisdom which shall be my guide;
The Shield whose shelter bids me rest
In peace, whatever ills betide;
The Eye of God, to search my thought;
His Ear, my prayer of faith to hear;
His Word, to make my words be fraught
With courage which His foes shall fear;
His angel host, to guard my path
Against all human guile and wrath,
Against the tempter's lures to sin.
Against the lusts that strive within.

All these upon my breast I bind
Against my foes in earth and hell;
Against the sorcerer's chanted spell,
And sway of idols o'er the mind;
Falsehoods of heresy, and powers
That rule the heathen in the hours
Of darkness; women's evil wiles;
And all the knowledge that defiles.

Guard me and shield me, Christ, my Lord!
Guard me against my foe's desire;
Guard me in dangers of the fire,
Guard me in dangers of the sea;
Guard me, O Lord, in serving Thee,
And make me share the great reward.

Christ be within me and around;
Christ on my left hand and my right;
May Christ in all my thoughts be found,
Christ in all breadth, and depth, and height!

May Christ be in their eyes that see
Thy servant, and their ears that hear;
Christ in his thoughts who thinks on me,
Christ on his lips who draweth near.

I bind as armour on my breast
The Threefold Name whereon I call,
Of Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
The Maker and the Judge of all.

Salvation is of Thee, the Incarnate Word;
Now and for ever save us, Christ our Lord!