celtic preayers

Poems and Prayers from the Carmina Gadelica

 

A link with our Celtic Christian heritage

Carmina Gadelica vol 3Carmina Gadelica is the most complete anthology of Celtic oral tradition ever assembled.

During his travels with the civil service as an excise man, Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912) spent hours with peasants in their huts in front of peat fires listening as they "intoned in a low, recitative manner" these poems and prayers.

It is a large collection of hymns, prayers, charms, poetry and rituals of the people in the Highlands of Scotland and surrounding Islands from the 19th century.

The language of some of these seems not only strange but alien to modern Christians, but the importance of a document such as this is that it provides context for understanding the conversion of a pagan people to christianity, because this is a record of an oral tradition handed down through generations.

Within the collection, there are some beautiful poems and prayers, and a selection of my favourites are enclosed below:

 

THANKSGIVING

Toirt Taing

Thanks to thee, 0 God, that I have risen to-day,
To the rising of this life itself;
May it be to Thine own glory, 0 God of every gift,
And to the glory of my soul likewise.

0 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.

 


PRAYER AT RISING

(From Catherine Maclean, crofter, Naast, Gairloch)

Bless to me, O God,
Each thing mine eye sees;
Bless to me, O God,
Each sound mine ear hears;
Bless to me, O God,
Each odour that goes to my nostrils
Bless to me, O God,
Each taste that goes to my lips;
Each note that goes to my song,
Each ray that guides my way,
Each thing that I pursue.
Each lure that tempts my will,
The zeal that seeks my living soul.
The Three that seek my heart,
The zeal that seeks my living soul,
The Three that seek my heart.


GOD'S AID

God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.

God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.

God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.

God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity.


THE THREE

In name of Father,
In name of Son,
In name of Spirit,
Three in One :

Father cherish me,
Son cherish me.
Spirit cherish me,
Three all-kindly.

God make me holy,
Christ make me holy.
Spirit make me holy.
Three all-holy.

Three aid my hope,
Three aid my love,
Three aid mine eye,
And my knee from stumblim
My knee from stumbling.


THOU, MY SOUL'S HEALER

Thou, my soul's Healer,
Keep me at even,
Keep me at morning,
Keep me at noon,
On rough course faring,
Help and safeguard
My means this night.
I am tired, astray, and stumbling,
Shield Thou me from snare and sin.


HOLY SPIRIT


O Holy Spirit of greatest power,
Come down upon us and subdue us ;
From Thy glorious mansion in the heavens,
Thy light effulgent shed on us.

Father beloved of every naked one,
From Whom all gifts and goodness come.
Our hearts illumine with Thy mercy,
In Thy mercy shield us from all harm.

Without Thy divinity there is nothing
In man that can earn esteem ;
Without Thyself, O King of kings,
Sinless man can never be.

In succour Thou art of all the best
Against the soul of wildest speech ;
Food art thou sweeter than all ;
Sustain and guide us at every time.

The knee that is stiff, O Healer, make pliant.
The heart that is hard make warm beneath Thy wing ;
The soul that is wandering from Thy path.
Grasp Thou his helm and he shall not die.

Each thing that is foul cleanse Thou early.
Each thing that is hard soften Thou with Thy grace.
Each wound that is working us pain,
O Best of healers, make Thou whole !

Give Thou to Thy people to be diligent
To put their trust in Thee as God,
That Thou mayest help them in every hour
With thy sevenfold gift, O Holy Spirit generous !


ENCOMPASSING

The compassing of God and His right hand
Be upon my form and upon my frame ;
The compassing of the High King and the grace of the Trinity
Be upon me abiding ever eternally,
Be upon me abiding ever eternally.

May the compassing of the Three shield me in my means,
The compassing of the Three shield me this day,
The compassing of the Three shield me this night
From hate, from harm, from act, from ill.
From hate, from harm, from act, from ill.


THE JOURNEY PRAYER

God, bless to me this day,
God, bless to me this night ;
Bless, O bless. Thou God of grace,
Each day and hour of my life ;
Bless, O bless. Thou God of grace.
Each day and hour of my life.

God, bless the pathway on which I go,
God, bless the earth that is beneath my sole ;
Bless, O God, and give to me Thy love,
O God of gods, bless my rest and my repose ;
Bless, O God, and give to me Thy love,
And bless, O God of gods, my repose.


JOURNEY BLESSING

Bless to me, O God,
The earth beneath my foot.
Bless to me, O God,
The path whereon I go ;
Bless to me, O God,
The thing of my desire ;
Thou Evermore of evermore.
Bless Thou to me my rest.

Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my mind,
Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my love ;
Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my hope ;
O Thou King of kings,
Bless Thou to me mine eye !


BLESSINGS

God's peace be to you,
Jesus' peace be to you,
Spirit's peace be to you
And to your children.
Oh to you and to your children.
Each day and night
Of your portion in the world.

The compassing of the King of life be yours,
The compassing of loving Christ be yours,
The compassing of Holy Spirit be yours
Unto the crown of the life eternal,
Unto the crown of the life eternal.

My own blessing be with you.
The blessing of God be with you.
The blessing of Spirit be with you
And with your children.
With you and with your children.

My own blessing be with you.
The blessing of God be with you,
The blessing of saints be with you
And the peace of the life eternal,
Unto the peace of the life eternal.

The guarding of the God of life be on you,
The guarding of loving Christ be on you,
The guarding of Holy Spirit be on you
Every night of your lives,
To aid you and enfold you
Each day and night of your lives.

The love and affection of the angels be to you.
The love and affection of the saints be to you.
The love and affection of heaven be to you,
To guard you and to cherish you.

May God shield you on every steep,
May Christ aid you on every path,
May Spirit fill you on every slope.
On hill and on plain.

May the King shield you in the valleys,
May Christ aid you on the mountains,
May Spirit bathe you on the slopes.
In hollow, on hill, on plain.
Mountain, valley and plain.

The shape of Christ be towards me.
The shape of Christ be to me.
The shape of Christ be before me,
The shape of Christ be behind me.
The shape of Christ be over me.
The shape of Christ be under me.
The shape of Christ be with me.
The shape of Christ be around me
On Monday and on Sunday ;
The shape of Christ be around me
On Monday and on Sunday.


PEACE

The peace of God, the peace of men,
The peace of Columba kindly.
The peace of Mary mild, the loving,
The peace of Christ, King of tenderness,
The peace of Christ, King of tenderness.

Be upon each window, upon each door.
Upon each hole that lets in light.
Upon the four corners of my house,
Upon the four corners of my bed.
Upon the four corners of my bed ;

Upon each thing my eye takes in,
Upon each thing my mouth takes in.
Upon my body that is of earth
And upon my soul that came from on high.
Upon my body that is of earth
And upon my soul that came from on high.

 

PEACE
(From Mary MacLeod, Naast, Gairloch)

Peace between neighbours,
Peace between kindred.
Peace between lovers,
In love of the King of life.

Peace between person and person,
Peace between wife and husband,
Peace between woman and children,
The peace of Christ above all peace.

Bless, O Christ, my face,
Let my face bless every thing ;
Bless, O Christ, mine eye,
Let mine eye bless all its sees.


I LIE DOWN THIS NIGHT

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.


REST BENEDICTION
(reciter : Dugall MacAulay, cottar, Hacleit, Benbecula)

Bless to me, O God, the moon that is above me.
Bless to me, O God, the earth that is beneath me,
Bless to me, O God, my wife and my children,
And bless, O God, myself who have care of them ;

Bless to me my wife and my children,
And bless, O God, myself who have care of them.
Bless, O God, the thing on which mine eye doth rest.
Bless, O God, the thing on which my hope doth rest,
Bless, O God, my reason and my purpose.
Bless, O bless Thou them. Thou God of life ;
Bless, O God, my reason and my purpose,
Bless, O bless Thou them. Thou God of life.

Bless to me the bed-companion of my love.
Bless to me the handling of my hands.
Bless, O bless Thou to me, O God, the fencing of my defence.
And bless, O bless to me the angeUng of my rest ;
Bless, O bless Thou to me, O God, the fencing of my defence.
And bless, O bless to me the angeling of my rest.


REST BLESSING

Bless Thou, O God, the dwelling,
And each who rests herein this night ;
Bless Thou, O God, my dear ones
In every place wherein they sleep ;
In the night that is to-night,
And every single night ;
In the day that is to-day,
And every single day.

 


 

I LIE DOWN THIS NIGHT

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.

 


 

REPOSE OF SLEEP

Reciter : Mary MacRae, cottar, Camas Luinge, Kintail
The reciter said : After I have closed my door and put out my cruisie
(lamp) and gone to my bed, I beseech the Being of life and the God of
grace, and say to Him


O God of life, darken not to me Thy light,
O God of life, close not to me Thy joy,
O God of life, shut not to me Thy door,
O God of life, refuse not to me Thy mercy,
O God of life, quench Thou to me Thy wrath.
And O God of life, crown Thou to me Thy gladness,
O God of life, crown Thou to me Thy gladness.