5 Celtic Prayers and Blessings for St. Patrick’s Day

The Celtic Christian tradition has much to offer us living in the modern world. For one, the Celtic people and their descendants possessed an intuitive awareness of God’s presence in all creation—an awareness we moderns have largely lost. From the waves crashing against the craggy Irish coast to the ever-present rain and wind, everything was a sign and manifestation of the Divine.

Moreover, the Irish possessed, and frequently still do, a great love of story and song. In centuries past, evenings were frequently spent at the homes of friends telling tales and saying prayers and singing the heroic feats of warriors and saints. Poetry runs in Irish blood, though it sadly the rest of the world has forgotten to see and to sing the glories of the created world and of its Creator.

Finally, the Celtic people were people of tremendous faith, faith that endured hardships most of us can only dream of. This faith penetrated every act of life, from making the bed and getting dressed to milking the cows, and a prayer or song sanctified these tasks of the day. These deep-rooted faith sustained the Irish through famine, persecution, and dire poverty for centuries. One of the greatest tragedies of the past 50 years is the devastating collapse of faith among the Irish—though the light is not extinguished entirely and signs of hope remain.

In honor of the feast of St. Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland, I would like to share 5 beautiful prayers from the Celtic tradition. Unlike many modern prayers written in imitation of the Celtic style, these are authentic prayers gathered from original sources by Alexander Carmichael and collected in his massive, six-volume work, the Carmina Gadelica. The prayers I share here were collected and edited from the Carmina Gadelica by Esther de Waal in her book The Celtic Vision

House Protecting

God, bless the world and all that is therein.
God, bless my spouse and my children,
God, bless the eye that is in my head,
And bless, O God, the handling of my hand;
What time I rise in the morning early,
What time I lie down late in bed,
Bless my rising in the morning early,
And my lying down late in bed.

God, protect the house and the household,
God, consecrate the children of the motherhood,
God, encompass the flocks of the young,
Be Thou after them and tending them,
What time the flocks ascend the hill and wold,
What time I lie down to sleep,
What time the flocks ascend hill and wold,
What time I lie down in peace to sleep.

The Dedication

Thank to Thee, God,
Who brout’st me from yesterday,
To the beginning of today,
Everlasting joy
To earn for my soul
With good intent.
And for every gift of peace
Thou bestowest on me,
My thoughts, my words,
My deeds, my desires
I dedicate to Thee.
I supplicate Thee,
I beseech Thee,
To keep me from offense
And to shield me tonight,
For the sake of Thy wounds
With Thine offering of grace.

Peace

Peace between neighbors,
Peace between kindred,
Peace between lovers,
In love of the King of life.

Peace between person and person,
Peace between wife and husband,
Peace between woman and children,
The peace of Christ above all peace.

Bless, O Christ, my face.
Let my face bless every thing;
Bless, O Christ, mine eye,
Let mine eye bless all it sees.

Grace Before Food

Be with me, O God, at breaking of bread,
Be with me, O God, at the close of my meal;
Let no whit adown my body
That may hurt my sorrowing soul.
O no whit adown my body
That may hurt my sorrowing soul.

The Journey Blessing

Bless to me, O God,
The earth beneath my foot,
Bless to me, O God,
The path whereon I go;
Bless to me, O God,
The thing of my desire;
Thou Evermore of evermore,
Bless Thou to me my rest.

Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my mind,
Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my love;
Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my hope;
O Thou king of kings,
Bless Thout to me mine eye!

6 Responses to “5 Celtic Prayers and Blessings for St. Patrick’s Day”

  1. Séamus enright Reply

    Whit is most likely a shortened version of weight, as in ‘no weight will keep down my body’.
    Also I agree that the faith in Ireland has been severely attacked and tested but there is still a very faithful remenent.
    Séamus, Ireland

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