Music for St. Patrick’s Day

One of the favorite hymns in our parish is “I bind unto myself today.” The text of this hymn is a prayer for protection and is attributed to St. Patrick. Singing it amounts to the donning of armor, and so the hymn is often called simply “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.” (A certain member of the parish — in his frequent adjuration for me to schedule this hymn in an upcoming service — never bothers mentioning the hymn’s name, simply declaring, with a smile: “268!!” That’s the number of the hymn in our Hymnal.)

You can read more about the origins of the text of this hymn on this page, where the dramatic story of an event in St. Patrick’s life is recounted.

We traditionally sing this hymn on Trinity Sunday, and hope to do so this year. I also hope that the choir will be ready to sing a striking setting of the prayer of St. Patrick composed by Arvo Pärt. His setting is called “The Deer’s Cry,” for reasons you will learn at the page about the hymn. We’ve purchased the sheet music and will begin practicing it soon.

Meanwhile, here is a recording of Pärt’s “The Deer’s Cry” as sung by the ensemble VOCES8.