Like John Williams’ Olympic Fanfare, or Pomp and Circumstance for graduations, St Patrick’s Breast Plate has a long tradition of being a part of our Ordination services.
Many will recognize the song for it’s opening line, “I bind unto myself today…” Whether sung as the processional or at another point prior to the actual Ordination, the hymn sets a tone for that which is about to take place. Most of the lyrics make a clear proclamation of the commitment called forth in Ordination, and in fact, living as faithful people.
Yet, the second to last verses not only make a significant shift musically but also with regard to the lyrics:
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.
There is something in this moment that you can literally feel – an increase in the collective confidence of the gathered faithful. It is akin to when we state in our Baptismal Covenant, “I will with God’s help.” We are willing to make our commitment, but we live with the great confidence that we do not do so alone.
As I have been preparing for the next two weeks at General Convention I have reflected often on these words and the assurance they provide of God’s ever abiding presence with us. It is important that we bring the gifts God has given us for ministry to the ‘table’ at General Convention. Yet, we can never lose sight that it is God’s Church, and our prayer is, “Thy will be done.”
Your prayers, as always, will be appreciated.