Wednesday, March 17, 2010

O Patrick, Hail!

Far away in Perth, W.A., my friends will be readying all for the official opening of the newly refurbished St Anne's Church in Belmont, as the new home of the Latin Mass community in that Archdiocese: fittingly, the solemnities will begin with the blessing of the church in the context of a Holy Hour, ending with Solemn Benediction, followed at once by Solemn High Mass!

I attended Mass earlier to-day, glad that thereby I truly was at the same Altar as my faraway friends, and was delighted to sing "O Patrick, hail", which happens to be my old school song.  (Yes, I know that it's double alleluia is entirely unlenten, but, well...)  Here are all the verses:

O Patrick, hail, who once the wand’ring race
Didst win to be God’s faithful resting-place,
And Ireland’s love to soothe his wounded face.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

*In dreams thou heard’st thy distant children cry
To bid thee, holy one of God, draw nigh,
Lest all the Gaelic clans but live to die.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Christ was thy sword, thy breastplate and thy shield,
And Christ the living strength that helped thee wield
A sacred spell o’er hill and lake and field.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Christ was thine eye, and Christ thine ear and tongue,
And Christ the peerless song thy brave lips sung,
And Christ thy challenge to the faithless flung.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

*O lonely strife no man can ever tell,
The years thou barest cross and staff and bell,
To war with all the powers and hate of hell.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

*Yet Ulster’s plain thou choosest for thine own,
Armagh thou madest be thy royal throne,
To holy Down thou lef’st thy burying-stone.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Yet comes a day to ease thy people’s pain,
Thy saints shall rise from glen and sea and plain,
When thou, with Christ, in glory come again.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

(*We omitted the 2nd, 5th and 6th stanzas, as more relevant to Ireland rather than to Australia.)

I sometimes wondered (see the first stanza) why St Patrick had a wounded face... till I realized that this alludes rather to the Face of Christ, wounded in His Passion.

The last verse, so eschatological, always brings a lump to my throat.

St Patrick, pray for us.


David said...

This is a fine hymn But you can hardly sing it on St. Patrick's Day since that day always falls in Lent when the Alleluia's would not be allowed.

Joshua said...

Yes, but... we always sang it, even during Lent; and it was indeed sung at Mass the other day.

Perverse but true - call it the revenge of those put upon by doctrinaire liturgists.

Call it Irish oddity.

It must be some sort of special indult... ;-)