17 March 2011

St. Patrick (March 17)

"Whence I, once rustic, exiled, unlearned, incapable to provide for the future, this at least I know most certainly that before I was humiliated I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me, and raised me up, and placed me on the top of the wall. And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity - benefits beyond men's conception. "

Hymn: LSB 604 I Bind Unto Myself Today

St. Patrick was a Briton, captured as a boy and sold into slavery in Ireland.  He converted while in slavery, remembering the Bible passages his Christian father had taught him.  St. Patrick went on to become a prolific missionary to the Irish, reportedly baptizing 120,000 people and founding hundreds of churches.  More on his life and writings can be found here.

For all the (sometimes very unChristian) frivolity associated with St. Patrick's Day in America, I really love how we enthusiastically celebrate the man who introduced Christ to a whole people, Ireland.  Our culture is blind to the spiritual good that can result from physical evil, and how God uses even our sin for his Purpose.  Anyone today would see Patrick's enslavement as the worst sort of evil, but it freed thousands from pagan superstition and bondage to death.   Remember, too, that Patrick's people (Romano-Briton) conquered the Celts.  I have heard both Africans and Native Americans express gratefulness that God brought the Gospel to their people, even if wickedness, greed, and oppression came with it.

*There are fewer saints days in March than February, so I'm going to review what a missionary is with my kids.  It's easier for them to remember "martyr", "missionary", "pastor" when we have clusters of them in a week. 

*Older kids might like hearing about the legend of Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland, and figuring out what the snakes represent. (I find it humorous that many sites have earnest

*Patrick emphasized the Trinity in his writings, both in the Breastplate hymn and Section 2 of his Confessio.  Review (or introduce) our doctrines of the Holy Trinity.

It is not hard to find lots of St. Patrick's Day crafts, recipes, songs, etc. online (or at your library).  Here are some of my favorite ideas (and a few from readers):

* An all green meal

* An all Irish meal (Irish Soda Bread, Corned-beef and cabbage)

* Rainbow-themed crafts and goodies (focusing on God's promises (HT: Aubri at goldenandnobleworks.blogspot.org.  She has some great St. Patrick's Day ideas)

* Sing "I Bind Unto Myself Today" (LSB 604 with hand motions (HT: Rebekah from CSPP)
I bind unto myself today (cross arms over chest)
The strong name of the Trinity (form triangle with hands--thumbs meet to make the bottom side)
By invocation of the same (make sign of the cross)
The three in one and one in three (hold up 3 fingers when singing "three" and 1 for "one")

I bind this day to me forever (cross arms over chest)
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation (cradle pretend baby)
His baptism in the Jordan river (make water flowing motions with hands)
His cross of death for my salvation (make cross with index fingers)
His bursting from the spiced tomb (begin with hands clasped at chest, then push out and apart)
His riding up the heavenly way (point to ground, then move finger up until pointing at sky)
His coming at the day of doom (begin with hands in the air, move them down until pointing toward ground)
I bind unto myself today (cross arms over chest).
"And if ever I have done any good for my God whom I love, I beg Him to grant me that I may shed my blood with those exiles and captives for His name, even though I should be denied a grave, or my body be woefully torn to pieces limb by limb by hounds or wild beasts, or the fowls of the air devour it. I am firmly convinced that if this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul together with my body, because on that day without doubt we shall rise in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as sons of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be conformed to His image; for of Him, and by Him, and in Him we shall reign."


  1. I'd like to teach this song to my children, "I Bind Unto Myself Today". Do you know where I can find the melody it is sung to?
    And I think the visuality of hand motions does a lot for putting the message firmly in to young children's hearts and minds.

  2. http://wn.com/HYMN__I_Bind_Unto_Myself_Today_St_Patrick%27s_Breastplate

    IF you click the above link it will show you a list of online videos where you can hear the song sung.

    I couldn't find free sheet music online, but I can send you a scan from our hymnal, if you want (actually, if you have ANY hymnals in your home, this song is probably in it. It's very popular).

  3. Thank you Katy. We have many hymnals. I will check if we have it one of them.