The Irish Blessing

When one has been locked down too long and friends, family or one’s fragile self grows cranky, a remedy is near. Listen to the Irish Blessing: It is a distinctly Irish take on the blessing sung world-wide, this one based on “Be Thou My Vision” with part of the Breastplate of St. Patrick.

Only those who understand the centuries-long enmity between Northern Ireland and the Republic, between Protestant and Catholic, can appreciate the rare harmony of over 300 Christian churches, in ALL the counties, singing together. With their blood-soaked history, the Irish never deny pain and suffering. Instead, they are keenly aware of dangers and threats: the coronavirus, recession and unemployment more in a long list. Summoning the High King of Heaven for protection admits that humans are small and vulnerable. But they don’t waste time and energy on ultimately futile psychological strategies, which ultimately tie us in knots. The defenses built by the undefended child can grow into the grim walls of the anxious, paranoid adult.

The blessing gives confidence to go forth wrapped and enveloped in Christ our companion: beside, before, behind, within, around. Celtic spirituality doesn’t rely only on puny human powers, but trusts God’s ear, wisdom, hand to uphold and legions to save. God’s presence in the most ordinary life is intense, vivid, sure—surrounding, encircling. Of course people still wobble, but they can always return to that grounded certainty.  Maybe that assurance accounts for over ½ million views world-wide as of June 9.

Viewers may also be drawn to the fiddlers, drummers, Irish dancers, harps, flutes, bodhrans, signers, and intermingled shots of spectacular scenery: distant castles and waves crashing on the rocky coast. Each group who sang dedicated their effort to a wide variety of causes, including a Centre for Asylum-Seekers, a cardiology department, delivery drivers, the homeless, a children’s hospital, firefighters, a primary school, “those sick and alone in hospital, those with addictions,” parents of small children. Indeed, all listeners are blessed by this heart-felt, grateful, powerful, generous outpouring.


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