Copy from an old hymnal

St Patrick’s Breastplate (The Lorica)

St Patrick’s Breastplate, is an Irish breastplate prayer or song, one of the most renowned and known as The Lorica or The Deer’s Cry. Lorica is a Latin word, pronunced loːˈriːka, meaning “body armour”. In biology a lorica is a shell-like protective outer covering. St. Patrick’s Breastplate is a faith-filled prayer from the 5th century, and is attributed to Ireland’s patron saint. This litany or invocation is said to have been written by Saint Patrick in the year 433 A.D. as he appealed for divine protection.

My (Peterwill) inspiration for re-publishing these two breastplate works, The Lorica and Be Thou My Vision, is Anne Hamilton. She is a prolific author and Irish descendant born, raised and living in Australia. She published these two prayer/songs in her wonderful book God’s Poetry. She says this of them in her book:

‘Breastplate songs such as, Be Thou My Vision and The Deer’s Cry may seem odd forms of protection but they do have Scriptural warrant. Buried deep in the mathematical structure of Ephesians 6 – and as a former teacher of mathematics, this is something that interests me greatly – there are clues that the armour of God has seven pieces. Only six are evident: the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the sword of the Spirit. The seventh is clearly songs of praise.’

See the link below to God’s Poetry by Anne Hamilton.

The Lorica

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life–giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and whiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord. 


c. 5th century (attr.) St. Patrick of Ireland111 (tr.) Cecil Frances Alexander


Audio by David Davidson. Click here to see David’s poems:

YouTube Video: without the demon and Satan verses (6 and 7): St. Patrick’s Breastplate Arranged by Rod Lewis ©2020 Five O’ Silver Music For Church of the Apostles, Columbia Trinity Sunday, Published on May 29, 2020

See the link below to Anne Hamilton’s book God’s Poetry and her website:

PAST POET REFLECTIONS are established to recognise the generations of giants and all poets and songwriters who have come before us - these are carefully selected by our Red Thread Poets, whom we acknowledge first above the poem or lyrics presented.