On Saint Patrick’s Day, we thought it would be nice to share here some simple, everyday prayers from the Christian Celtic tradition that have blessed us over the years. They had prayers that acknowledged the presence of God in the simplest of human activities–milking a cow, stoking a fire, extinguishing a fire, rising and retiring, and embarking on a journey, to name a few.
Below are some of those prayers:
(Excerpts from the Carmina Gadelica taken from The Celtic Vision. Edited by Esther de Waal. Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications, 1988. Page numbers in parentheses)
Rising Prayer (39)
Thanks to Thee, O God, that I have risen to day,
To the rising of this life itself;
May it be to Thine own glory, O God of every gift,
And to the glory of my soul likewise.
O great God, aid Thou my soul
With the aiding of Thine own mercy;
Even as I clothe my body with wool,
Cover Thou my soul with the shadow of Thy wing.
Help me to avoid every sin,
And the source of every sin to forsake;
And as the mist scatters on the crest of the hills,
May each ill haze clear from my soul, 0 God.
Smothering the Fire (77)
The sacred Three
Oh! this eve,
And every night,
Each single night.
Night Prayer (95)
I lie down this night with God,
And God will lie down with me;
I lie down this night with Christ,
And Christ will lie down with me;
I lie down this night with Spirit,
And the Spirit will lie down with me;
God and Christ and the Spirit
Be lying down with me.
Death Prayer (123)
O God, give me of Thy wisdom,
O God, give me of Thy mercy,
O God, give me of Thy fullness,
And of Thy guidance in face of every strait.
O God, give me of Thy holiness,
O God, give me of Thy shielding,
O God, give me of Thy surrounding,
And of Thy peace in the knot of my death.
Oh give me of Thy surrounding,
And of Thy peace at the hour of my death!
House Blessing (132)
Be Christ’s cross on your new dwelling,
Be Christ’s cross on your new hearth,
Be Christ’s cross on your new abode,
Upon your new fire
Be Christ’s cross on your topmost grain,
Be Christ’s cross on your fruitful wives,
Be Christ’s cross on your virile sons,
Upon your conceptive daughters.
Be Christ’s cross on your serving-maid,
Be Christ’s cross on your knee of promise,
Be Christ’s cross on your coming generation,
Upon your prospering cattle.
Be Christ’s cross on your means and portion,
Be Christ’s cross on your kin and people,
Be Christ’s cross on you each light and darkness,
day and each night of your lives,
Each day and each night of your lives.
Journey Blessings (154-55)
May God make safe to you each steep,
May God make open to you each pass,
May God make clear to
you each road,
And may He take you in the clasp of His own two hands.
May God shield you on every steep,
May Christ keep you in every path,
May Spirit bathe you in
The compassing of God be on thee,
The compassing of the God of life.
The compassing of Christ be on thee,
The compassing of the Christ of love.
The compassing of Spirit be on thee,
The compassing of the Spirit of Grace.
The compassing of the Three be on thee,
The compassing of the Three preserve thee,
The compassing of the Three preserve thee.
In what life situations might we develop simple prayers to acknowledge God’s presence, welcome His generous grace and offer ourselves to Him? Booting up a computer? Taking a morning shower? Sitting down to a meal? Preparing a make a phone call or send an email? How might you deepen your own moment-to-moment awareness of the real presence of Christ with you?